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Friday, 18 April 2014

Dekh Tamasha Dekh

About 2-3 minutes into Feroze Abbas Khan’s second venture into Bollywood your reaction would be, “This doesn’t seem like a movie at all”.  For those unaware, FAK is a much more well known for his exploits in the theatre circuit.  It seems like the baggage from theatre has been carried over to Dekh Tamasha Dekh not just in terms of narration but more obviously in terms of cast.

Names such as Ganesh Yadav, Kishore Pradhan, Vinay Jain, Sharad Ponkshe, Apurva Arora, Santosh Juvekar, Jaywant Wadkar, Sudhir Pandey and Alok Rajwade are big in the theatre circuit.  Add a little bit of spice with 2 fine actors who are also well known in theatre – Satish Kaushik & Tanvi Azmi.

Dekh Tamasha Dekh is a satire on several topics.  The central topic is however that of communalism and the manner in which leaders – political and religious – take advantage of gullible village folk to influence them towards acts of violence and hate.  It is set in a small beach town called Chaandaa and begins with an absurd reference to Elizabeth and Kaalia (will leave it to you to figure that one out because I have still not got the purpose).

It quickly moves into the core issue through a local politician (Satish Kaushik) who also runs the local newspaper.  A local tongawala (horse cart driver) called Hameed has just himself quite drunk.  Hameed doesn’t know that in a few minutes, a life size cut out of the politician tips over onto the high tension wire under it and crashes onto Hameed.  Hameed is electrocuted and dies instantly.

What’s the big deal? Hameed was actually a Hindu by the name of Kissan.  He is ostracized by his people some 15+ years back when he converts to Islam.  Now, with his death, the local goons see an opportunity to not only make a few thousand bucks from the government but also create a political ruckus over Kissan / Hameed’s last rites – should he be buried as a Muslim or should he be cremated as a Hindu.

DTD is hilarious in the first half.  FAK lays bare the flimsy nature of the society that we live in today.  One that is fraught with literate but uneducated people and to make matters worse in the hinterland – illiterate people as well.  There is no empathy towards the family of the deceased.

The disdain is summarized by a line, “Dange rokne ka kaam police aur military ka hai.  Newspaper ka nahin”. (Maintaining peace is not the responsibility of a newspaper.  It is managed by the military and the cops).  It is just another aspect that is covered by the movie –responsibility of the media and social responsibility as such.

A dialogue towards the end of the movie summarizes the public apathy in this country exceptionally.  “Yeh sab is ilake ka rivaaz hai.  Har 2-3 saal mein dange hote hain.  Log jhagadte hain.  Ek dosre ka khoon karte hain, ghar jalaate hain.  Apne Andar ki saari bhadaas nikalte hain”.  (It is almost like a culture here.  Every 2-3 years we have riots.  People kill each other. They burn houses.  As if their pent up frustration explodes).

That dialogue pretty much summarises the state of this country and also a huge reason why the movie will not do well (other than 2 States of course).  It tells people that they aren’t as smart as they think they are.  A formula that has never worked in this country thanks to social hypocrisy.

If FAK had not stretched out the 2nd half and instead focused on keeping the movie tight i.e. under 90 minutes, DTD would have been brilliant.  Instead we get a movie that is great in parts and more importantly difficult to last through in the last 30 minutes or so.  You must watch it because it is relevant and important.  6 on 10.

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