About the story: Ravi Verma (Chandrachur Singh) is an unscrupulous and conscienceless lawyer. His best clients are his father-in-law Tejeshwar Singhal (Raj Babbar) and his friends for whom Ravi conducts their illegal affairs. When municipal commissioner Satya Prakash (Shivaji Satham) opposes them, Ravi makes him go to jail under false and dishonouring accusations. In prison, Singhal gets Prakash murdered so that it looks like suicide. Prakash’s son, elite soldier Karan (Sanjay Dutt), is convinced of his father’s innocence and swears bitter vengeance to the murderers. Cold-bloodedly he shoots at Ravi in the open street and seriously injures him, whereby Ravi’s wife Kajal (Mahima Chaudhary) is lethally hit. While Karan is on the run from the police, led by his brother-in-law to-be, inspector Vinay (Sachin Khedekar), Ravi can be saved but loses his memory. When he regains it in doctor Anand’s (Shakti Kapoor) sanatory with the help of dancer Kajri (Mahima Chaudhary), a lookalike of his late wife, Ravi is a changed man who regrets his past and wants to atone for his sins. But Karan is still burning with hatred and revenge...
I genuinely accept that Sanju not always must play the main lead, and if a smaller role is an interesting task for him then I’m the last one who would protest against that. But then he should at least be given the favour of interactions with a strong co-star and not with a Chandrachur Singh who mostly has the charisma of a sleeping pill (even though Daag, besides Maachis, is one of his better performances known to me) and is no real challenge for an intense actor like Sanjay Dutt who plays with full abandon. Daag could have become a top film, had Ravi been played by Aamir Khan or Shahrukh Khan; if these actors had had to face a vengeance-sparkling antagonist like Sanjay – God, what a thrilling potential! At least Chandrachur had a terrific partner in Mahima Chaudhary who excels in her double role as soft Kajal (who in vain tries to make her husband see reason) and as vivacious Kajri. Special praises go to Sachin Khedekar who in a very touching way handles the bad conscience of the man who, while on duty, has to take action against the family he wants to marry into, and to Shakti Kapoor who, as the quiet and reasonable doctor, is almost unrecognizable in comparison with his former and mostly shrill villain or comic relief roles.
Sanjay himself seems, at first glance, to be nearly unchallenged with his role as Karan. After his father’s funeral he has not very much more to do than to run around, determined and unstoppable and firing pistols with both hands. A return to the former action hero? No, precisely not. Even though his desire for revenge is understandable, it doesn’t make the elite soldier (who, quoting his father, can sacrifice his life for the truth) the morally superior hero, not even against the criminal lawyer Ravi. Had Karan been the better human being than Ravi, he would have had to stop firing at Ravi as soon as his first bullet hit Kajal; instead he emptied both magazines intentionally and mercilessly into both his victims. He never even shows a glimmer of remorse about having killed an innocent woman. Of course, Karan has his honorable sides and here and there even shows them, but he also makes a lot of mistakes and is finally forced to rethink massively.
So thus, even Karan finally becomes an interesting character study for Sanjay. Especially when he wants to visit his father in prison, Sanjay can once again touchingly play off his emotions. Above all, however, Daag is the perfect illustrative material if you want to study the rich variety of expressions in Sanju’s eyes. These glances! These unspeakably fascinating big eyes which can express the world! Rarely they were faded into the spotlight as intensely as in Daag. To experience this, you can also take along a Chandrachur Singh.
Produced and directed by Raj Kanwar
165 Min.; DVD: Spark, English Subtitles (including songs), partially slightly delayed.