Taking just a thread out of Perumazhakaalam…
Cast: Ayesha Takia, Gul Panag, Shreyas Talpade, Girish Karnad
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Storyline: An incident brings two diametrically opposite women from diverse backgrounds together.
Bottomline: World-class cinema.
Nagesh Kukunoor returns with his signature feel-good cinema. And nobody delivers the genre like him.
He always manages to make the world around his characters happy, brings out the larger than life element in their rather simple lives, no matter how much glycerine they had the potential for.
Any other Indian director would have made ‘Iqbal’ into a melodramatic ‘Black,’ by exploiting audience sympathy for the disabled protagonist. But Kukunoor empowers his characters with a strength and resolve that only life can provide.
And that honesty leaks through every frame of his films.
Nor surprising that Kukunoor has taken just a thread (Dor) out of the critically acclaimed Malayalam film ‘Perumazhakaalam’ and weaves his own tale. The plot, based on a true incident, remains the same. One woman must find another to save her husband from the gallows. She must find the widow of the man her husband has killed and seek her pardon.
‘Perumazhakaalam’ made this an effective tearjerker, laced with the drama of the moonsoon and incessant rains.
In ‘Dor,’ Kukunoor uses the premise to contrast the lives of a spirited outgoing independent Muslim woman (Zeenat) and the innocent young Hindu Rajasthani widow who lives her life behind huge doors and a black veil. And suddenly, he’s broken age-old stereotypes of the Hindu woman being the independent one and the Muslim woman being the one behind the veil.
There’s this one scene when the director cuts from Zeenat (Gul Panag) trying to fix her house literally from the outside, perched on a ladder, with a hammer in hand, to Meera (Ayesha Takia) inside the house and behind a veil. The play of visual metaphors throughout gives the film a world-class feel, the kind of stuff you usually see in Iranian cinema.
There’s not a dull moment in ‘Dor.’ Ayesha is almost unrecognisable, with no make-up and she delivers the role of her career, one of the finest performances this year, sure to fetch her at least a couple of awards. Vulnerable and child-like throughout, she saves her best for the scene when she breaks down and the transition in the end is controlled, measured and believable. Ayesha handles the inherent complexities of playing a simple girl with the ease of a veteran.
Gul Panag, well-cast as Zeenat, is brilliant too, personifying resolve and spirit. She sure comes across as the woman of steel, with her body language and kohl-lined eyes speaking volumes of her talent.
The surprise packet of the film comes in the form of Behroopiya (Shreyas Talpade), the man who takes ‘Dor’ so faraway from the soppy, sentimental world of ‘Perumazhakaalam.’ He’s brought in to entertain and he does like he’s been doing it for generations. He’s instantly likeable and fills ‘Dor’ with a lot of life, energy and smiles.
‘Dor,’ one of the finest films made on women by man, chokes you with its drama and uplifts you with its spirit. Absolutely elevating. One of the best films this year, right up there with Rang De Basanti, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Omkara.