Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dor - Review

We watched Nagesh Kukunoor's latest film last night and it's absolutely wonderful. It's as if you're watching a beautifully laid book on the screen - each page turns another wonderfully scripted scene.

The film starts in the lovely mountains of Himachal Pradesh, focusing on an endearing couple, Amir and Zeenat. He is a soft romantic and she is a harder than nails type of woman. She knows exactly what needs to be done, including how to win people over. The other couple is a traditional Rajput couple, Shankar and Meera. Their love and affection is so touching and charming.

Their paths cross when Zeenat embarks on a journey to seek Meera, a woman she's never met nor knows how to find. Yet she must try because she has everything to lose if she doesn't. En route, she finds Behroopiya, a struggling and comical actor, as a companion and conartist to help her.

The last character in this movie is India. The film takes you to where the clouds greet the lush mountains and you can feel the chilly morning air. You become envious of the villagers who live a simple life because what more do you need in life than those mountains? Then, the film sweeps us to the vast open deserts of Rajasthan. You could feel the dryness of the sand on your face and the heat of it beneath your feet. Again, the simple life of the Rajasthanis is also appealing.

The diversity of India is not only in her people, but in the landscapse. One country -- a fraction of the size of the US -- has Himalayas on the top, golden deserts in the middle and lush tropics and beaches in the south.

Gul Panag is absolutely riveting - you can't take your eyes off her intense ones. I've seen Ayesha Takia in bollywood films, like "Socha Na Tha," so her acting in this film shows her true potential. And, Marathi boy Shreyas Talpade is a lot of fun. I loved him in Kukunoor's "Iqbal" as a talented deaf cricket player. He's got a charming face and very open eyes.

This movie deals with sensitive topics such as treatment of women and widows in India. I think I wept through most of this movie anyway. At the same time, it's very beautiful and uplifting. I'm really grateful to the filmmakers for bringing the real women of India so up close and personal to us. The woman whose face is under a dupatta has a personality, a love and fire within her, which is more often suppressed by society.

I love Nagesh Kukunoor's films such as "Iqbal" and "Tein Deewar," which was so well written. (Here is my post about "Iqbal"). Actually, Kukunoor is a personal hero of mine as he was an engineer in the US and gave it up for his true passion in filmmaking. By the way, Kukunoor pulls a Shyamalan by playing a bit part in the movie. Eh, these guys need to just hire actors.


Anonymous said...

I too like liked this movie immensely. I thought Gul Panag was pretty intense and the way she came across as a fierce and independant woman, I almost fell in love with her. I was never the one who'd fell for damsel-in-distress types, because I grew up around women with strong personality and will. This movie is a tribute to all those women whom I've known to admire all my life.

The widow angle is realistically treated too, but then I am still looking for answers. There might be a few Indian women living in metros who are able to escape the taboo, but in most places in India, it still is a big deal for her to be remarried.

I believe Kukunoor didnt acknowledge the credit, that Dor is a remake of an obscure Malayalam movie. I havent seen that movie (plan on renting and watching it), but if imitation is best flattery, that original story maker should accept and move on.

Anonymous said...


"Gul Panag is absolutely riveting"

I wish we could ban the word "riveting" from the English dictionary. It feels like a centipede crawling your face. It is the most pan-paraged word ever.

Anonymous said...

Can't remember the last time I saw an Indian movie or the next time I will see one. Ayesha Takia reminds me of a very young Tabu.

Anonymous said...

Prasad: I had no idea this was a remake. I didn't see anything in the credits unless I missed something(yes, I actually read them). Also, my husband has been talking about Gul Panang for the past 2 days now. :-) He did some research online (she was Miss India or something, but preferred to go into non-bollywood roles). He also learend her voice was dubbed. The girl whose voice was used was someone he knew in India years ago.

Prop: Riveting is an awesome word! You can hear the pound-pound-pound of this word - it's quickens the heart..the combination of the consonants. If you're going to ban words for flagrant overuse, it should be "vivid imagery."

Jane: This is not a typical Bollywood movie. Kukunoor's movies are very well made, well written and characters are strong and real. I think you'll enjoy this. We got it from the Indian store, but I wish this movie would be available in mainstream rentals. Also, I think Indian cinema is really changing for the better and a lot of filmmakers are taking risks. Give it a shot!

Anonymous said...

I had a feeling that Gul's voice was dubbed. I thought she would have acted with much more compassion when she first met Shankar's parents [sure his dad is a typical asshole, to add dramatic value] - she just rushed into it, I believe. Maybe thats why she didnt want to hurry into asking Meera for the signature.

Overall a great movie.

If you want to watch telugu movies (they sure come with subtitles) - do watch movies made by 1. Chandrasekhar Yeleti and 2. Shekhar Kammula.

Both these guys belong to Kukunoor's conviction. They were typical engineer kids in US, learnt film making and returned home. To list their movies.

1. Aithe (CY)
2. "Anukokunda Oka Roju" in short AOR (by CY)
3. Godavari (SK)
4. Anand (SK)

You will like those movies - 2,3 and 4 movies are about women with strong personalities :)

Anonymous said...

ash, you should see khosla ka wud enjoy it...

haff.. :)

Anonymous said...

i really dont know. kukunoor and his ilk of liberal south-indian elite know nothing of the intricacies of this complex society. if u explore one facet there'e always 10 more to it. he tries always in a very typical sort of style to show that all muslims are very good and all hindus are very bad and regressive. come on, there has been reform too. there is good as well. there is good in those brought up on our stories. y is it always so one-sided?

Hoarse Whisperer said...

Regardless of the message being sent, all I care is that the movie be engrossing (instead of the usual Bollywood glitz)...and Dor continues to be so.

Here is the theme music from the movie (Raaga has it incorrectly):

Anonymous said...

Ayesha is not one one of my favourite bollywood actresses but i must say her performance in Dor really impressed me. Ive never seen nor heard of Gul Panag but i think i'll begin to look out for her cos she was awesome. On the whole, Dor is one of the best and honest bollywood movies ive seen and trust me, i have seen a lot. say her performance in Dor really impressed me. Ive never seen nor heard of Gul Panag but i think i'll begin to look out for her cos she was awesome. On the whole, Dor is one of the best and honest bollywood movies ive seen and trust me, i have seen a lot.