The relationship between a man and a woman is like the one between a kite and the string that holds it. Who is the kite and who becomes the string depends on the individuals under discussion as the roles can be interchangeable and or reversed. However, if the man is the string, then the flight of the kite depends on him dictating and or controlling the heights the kite could scale. But, what happens when both the kite and the string are women trying to take a flight against all odds, seek justice and find meaning in life, in their own way? And, what happens when their world views are diametrically opposed to one another? To know the answer, we have to watch the movie Dor.
Cast and Crew
Direction and screenplay – Nagesh Kukunoor
Producers –Devika Bahudanam and Elahe Hiptoola
Story – Nagesh Kukunoor and Mir Ali Husain
Music – Salim–Sulaiman
Cast – Ayesha Takia (Meera), Shreyas Talpade (Behroopiya), Gul Panag (Zeenat Fatima), Girish Karnad (Randhir Singh), Prateeksha Lonkar (Gauri Singh), Utttara Baokar (Laxmibai Singh), Nagesh Kukunoor (Mr. Kapoor) and others.
Two stories and two lives get entwined by one fateful tragic incident.
Zeenat Fatima is from Himachal Pradesh and lives life on her terms. She dictates the terms and conditions and doesn’t rely on destiny to channel the trajectory of her life. She marries a man of her choice, when she chooses fit. Her husband obviously falls in love with her independent spirit. Soon after the wedding, he leaves for Saudi Arabia in search of a better life, while Zeenat stays behind awaiting his return.
Meera, a tradition-bound married girl, lives with her husband and in-laws in Rajasthan. She views her husband as a ticket to her freedom as he pampers her and doesn’t restrict her from living life the way she chooses fit (dancing and singing to her heart’s content) in spite of the taunts of elders. Meera’s husband too leaves for Saudi to earn, to repay the debt and get his ancestral haveli back, and appease his father (Karnad).
As both women await their husbands’ return home, tragedy strikes. Zeenat’s husband is arrested for murdering Meera’s husband in Saudi Arabia. As Zeenat’s husband waits his execution, according to Saudi law, the onus falls on Zeenat to get a ‘letter of pardon’ signed by Meera to avert the eventuality. She now has to go in search of Meera, convince her that it was an accident and not a premeditated murder. Her husband’s life depends on Meera’s decision. Along her search Zeenat meets the Behroopiya (Talpade) and they develop a unique bond of friendship, as he helps Zeenat find Meera.
And, the two women meet. Will Zeenat convince Meera to sign the Maafinaama and how will she do it? What will Meera’s reaction to the request be, forms the rest of the story.
Ayesha Takia delivers an authentic performance as Meera rising beyond the image of a glamour doll. She carries her role as a young bubbly wife and a mourning widow with ease and we root for her all along the movie. Her believable transformation is what keeps the audience glued to the screen.
Gul Panag as Zeenat adds her share of performance to make the story come alive on screen. Her relationship with her in-laws, her yearning to save her husband, battling all odds, make the audience yearn for a daughter like her. We want her to win and get her husband back. Along her search, she meets the Behroopiya, a small-time con artist, and they bond in the unique circumstances.
Shreyas does a memorable job too. He is smitten by Zeenat’s character and her strong will to channel her destiny. He adds the much-needed comic relief to the otherwise morose saga.
Girish Karnad as Meera’s father-in-law carries his part with ease. His grief due to his son’s death and his inability to save his mansion are all done well. He proves yet again that he is a seasoned artist.
Prateeksha Lokar as Meera’s mother-in-law and Uttara Baokar as Meera’s grandmother deliver realistic performances.
Salim and Sulaiman’s music is brilliant and it captures the essence of story and the background score adds an additional layer of legitimacy to the script. Two songs – Kesariyaa Baalam and Yeh Honsala – haunt you for days after you watch the film.
Screenplay by Nagesh Kukunoor and Mir Ali Hussain definitely needs to be appreciated. The subtlest nuances of living a traditional life (Meera) versus a self-assured woman (Zeenat) are brought out extremely well. Also, Sudeep Chatterjee’s brilliant use of the locales of both Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan is a mesmerizing visual treat to the audience.
Why it is a must watch
Dor is an official adaptation of the Malayalam film, Perumazhakkalam and it takes the audience through a gamut of emotions of love, loss, grief, determination, crippling, restricting social norms and finally taking control of one’s life. It is beautiful to watch how Kukunoor portrays each of these emotions through his story and screenplay. He does not miss even the subtlest nuances the character arcs demand. Hussain’s dialogues make the audience sit up, listen and think beyond what the movie offers.
The beauty of the film lies in the characters struggling to take control of the dor (string) to their lives. Initially we see Zennat has a stronghold on her life strings while Meera is happy to be the kite, as her husband holds the string to her flight. When fate decides otherwise, Zeenat’s dor is handed over to Meera and she has to decide whether to take control of it or not and more importantly, decide what to do with it. Beautiful paradox strewn with harsh reality is what makes the film a worthwhile watch.
The final confrontation between the two protagonists is superb and you sway between the two characters’ decisions, unable to decide one way or another. The chemistry between the two ladies and Shreyas is refreshing and you want it to keep going.
– By Ushasri, for IWI*
All the opinions stated herein are of the reviewer and Incredible Women of India does not conform to the same.
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