Samstag, 1. September 2007

Dushman (1998) - Review in English

About the story: Twin sisters Sonia and Naina Saigal (Kajol) are temperamentally completely different: While Naina is rather quiet and traditional, Sonia is full of spirits and like an "atom bomb" – at least these are Kabir’s (Jas Arora) feelings who needs a lot of tutoring by Naina to finally proclaim his love to his adored Sonia. But only shortly afterwards, Sonia is brutally raped and killed by postal employee Gokul Pandit (Ashutosh Rana). While her mother (Tanvi Azmi) in an act of mental self protection refuses to even think about the killer, Naina gets obsessed with searching for the culprit. With her help, Gokul actually gets caught, but in court is acquitted for lack of evidence and now threatens even Naina’s life. Desperately seeking for protection and justice, Naina entrusts herself to blind ex-major Suraj Singh Rathod (Sanjay Dutt) who, in spite of tending to depressions and alcohol, still knows how to fight and now coaches Naina mentally and physically for her next encounter with Gokul...

The credits announce Sanjay "in a dynamic role" which initially sets on a completely wrong track as those who expect a dynamic character in a livewire are to face a surprise: First of all, this blind Suraj Singh Rathod is a rather reserved and quiet man. But soon you realize that there is a turmoil of passions in this man. Embittered by his helplessness, he doesn’t consider himself a full-value human being anymore and in fights and alcohol excesses searches distraction as well as confirmation of the worthyness left in him. Is this just a facade (for self protection)? Or excesses of depressive phases? For towards Naina, Suraj proves to be an honest and trustworthy man right from the beginning, he listens to her, understands her problems, and thanks to his experiences in life he can be the pillar of strength she desperately needs. Suraj can not see, but he can feel, he can understand, and he can love. Maybe we should regard "dynamic" as "strong", then we come very close to the character and its interpretation by Sanjay.

Sanjay plays the major’s inner turmoil with many facets but without pushing himself to the fore. Because for the main part, this film belongs to Kajol with her double role, and she deserves every appreciation for her performance. She not only plays Naina with all her grief, despair and mortal fear with unsparing intensity, she even managed with bravura to embody the twin sisters in such different ways that you might forget that they were played by one and the same actress. Even though the sisters, despite being lookalikes, principally appear differently – Naina in traditional clothes and with long hair, Sonia in fashionable outfit and with trendy short hair –, Kajol didn’t rely just upon these outer differences and developed for each girl a special way of behaving and talking. Very well done. Ashutosh Rana, then a newcomer in film business, also delivered a terrific performance as psychopathic murderer with piercing glance.

Of course you hesitate for a moment when Suraj and Naina during their relationship gradually come closer to each other. After all, Sanjay is 16 years older than Kajol, and surely they are no ideal jodi. But thanks to the cautiousness of the female production team and the two actors, this growing love appears credible from the very beginning. Suraj admires Naina for her strength and lovable nature, and to Naina, Suraj has become a pillar she can lean on mentally and physically after her sister’s cruel death. And there is a wonderful harmony between Sanjay (who, after all, is the perfect protector material per se) and Kajol – just take the scene where Naina allows Suraj to feel out her face with his hands, and afterwards Suraj’s emotional outburst as he doesn’t consider himself worthy to be loved because of his disability. Once again, Sanjay proves to have the right sense for emotions, in this scene as well as in his interactions with his little adjunct Bhim (by the way, a fine performance by young Kunal Khemu!): Even though he mostly treats him rather roughly, there are loads of love and gratefulness behind this facade. Sanjay’s major is a man who doesn’t want to show emotions, and thus it’s all the more overwhelming when he here and there does it.

Dushman (= enemy) is a very watch-worth movie, though some Sanjay fans might not consider it a must-see. But just because it takes more than an hour until Sanjay enters the scene, or because he is not the sole main hero this time – that’s no reason to avoid Dushman. The impressions of Sanjay – very soft and gentle, reminding of Saajan – are too beautiful to miss them. By the way, isn’t it fascinating that Sanjay, in spite of his image as khalnayak/hero/macho, after every big crisis in his life recaptured his audience with a more sensitive and emotional role? Saajan was the sensational success which, after his drug phase and many flops, finally triggered Sanjay’s rise to stardom in the early 90es, and Dushman gained him lots of praises and sympathies after the forced interruption of his career due to his imprisonment. However, it took another year until he finally made his breakthrough once again – with Vaastav.

Produced by Pooja Bhatt; Directed by Tanuja Chandra
145 Min.; DVD: Eros, English Subtitles (not for the songs)
© Diwali

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