Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dekh Tamasha Dekh  

Yeh Hai India 

The subject hits déjà vu notes, but Feroz Abbas Khan takes a true story narrated to him by former cop Satish Sawhney and lets playwright Shafaat Khan give it the full dramatic treatment.

Dekh Tamasha Dekh is set in small sea-side town which is a microcosm for India. Here, Hindus and Muslims take periodic bashes at each other, to vent their frustration (according to a character.)

A new, secular cop (Vinay Jain) posted to the town, halts a pooja at his police station and soon enough finds himself dealing with a full scale communal conflagration.  A man is killed when the cut-out of a local leader Mutha Seth (Satish Kaushik) falls on him. He was originally Hindu but married a Muslim woman, so people from both communities want to conduct his last rites according to their religion, though the dead man’s stoic wife (Tanvi Azmi) takes no sides. (Sounds like what happened to saint-poet Kabir.)

Khan bungs in a whole lot of sub-plots—an inter-religious romance, a writer facing fundamentalist wrath for his book, a newspaper editor who is challenged by a ‘foreign-returned’ marketing man... and so on. None of them particularly novel, but Khan peppers the film with absurd humour—like the courtroom scene in which a baffled judge has to decide what is to be done with the corpse, or the pungent exchange between the men trying to erect the politician’s gigantic cut-out. There are religious leaders and opportunists on both sides, who want to grab power and put down the other community.

 The violence is treated with restraint, the many killings with a curious indifference-- the attempt always being to underline the latent evil with black humour. Even with caricature characters, and broad strokes, Khan shows up a mirror to our crazy society, and forces a response of exasperation, horror and amusement. The cast mostly made up of theatre actors, do their parts well, and help enliven the drama—standing out are Sudhir Pandey as a hate-spouting mullah, Sharad Ponkshe as the Hindu rabble-rouser and Dhiresh Joshi as the sly editor.


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