Dhokha Movie Review: Noble Intent
Pooja Bhatt's Dhokha is too be lauded for the sincerity of its intent and for the fact that the film has a point to make. And even though it is a little laboured at times, and simplistic at others, it is a valid one. The fact that the entire story is viewed and sifted through the consciousness of a Muslim protagonist makes it that much more believable. The story revolves around upright cop Zaid Ahmed Khan (Muzzamil), who discovers that his wife Sara (Tulip Joshi) has died in a bomb blast. Hours later he is told that she is a suicide bomber and is arrested. He is questioned and finally released with a clean chit. It is hard for Zaid to accept the fact that the intelligent and gentle woman whom he knew as his wife was responsible for a bomb blast in a Mumbai club, resulting in the death of many. Zaid looses his job, his friends and his patriotism is under scrutiny. But the evidence against her finally silences his doubts. He now embarks on a journey to discover who is wife really was, as it now appears that he was married to a stranger. He discovers to his dismay that the real enemy is not the terrorists but the state which creates them through what he says later in the film, 'institutionalized communalism' and when it discriminates against minorities. The director attempts to distinguish between the good, patriotic Muslim and the terrorist and makes a clear demarcation between the two. Dhokha attempts to address this question and invites a civilized response from both Muslims, non-Muslims and Muslim bashers. The Bhatts have come up with a real topical film this time. It makes quite a point on the plight of the Indian Muslim. There is a sequence in the film where the cops are checking all vehicles after the bomb blast. One of the vehicles is being driven by a Muslim and they force him to get down so that he can be questioned and searched. In the film, Zaid steps in eases the situation as a senior police officer. But once Zaid is released for questioning, he is subjected to the same treatment by some junior officers. The film drives home the humiliation and shame that Muslims have to undergo post a bomb blast or any other terrorist attack. They are compelled to prove their Indian-ness. Zaid goes through the same trauma as he is now stripped of his position and rank. Without the security of the police khaki, he is now looked on only as the husband of Sara, the suicide bomber. His friends, except for a couple, desert him and his neighbours hound him. Zaid, however refuses to react and insists on proving his Indian-ness. In fact he proclaims it at every forum that he can. The journey into Sara's past takes Zaid to her grandfather's (Anupam Kher) house. There he hears the story of the atrocities committed on the family, which has migrated from Kashmir to Nasik. It further leads him to a Maulana (Munish Makhija), who preaches the lesson of terrorism to hapless young men and women, disillusioned by the system. He is the one who mentored Sara's transformation into a human bomb. And the Maulana's next target is VT in Mumbai and the human bomb this time will be Sara's brother. It is a race against time for Zaid as he tries to trace the Maulana and stop this madness. With help from the anti-terrorist squad police he manages to stave off the danger. But only just, as he manages to convince Sara's brother to give up his mission, and promises him justice instead. The film's intent is absolutely noble and it makes quite a bold statement, just as it was expected to. The writing is one of the main strengths of the film. It is terrific subject which could open up a Pandora's Box. But the writing does resort to a few standard clich?s. The film has all the ingredients of being sensational but stops short of that because of its nature. The solution that the film offers at the end is more idealistic than realistic. The end is like the proverbial 'the end' of all Hindi films. The issue has been raised and it should be addressed in all its complexity. It's not just that simple as Bhatt would like to have us believe. One just wishes that she would have gone the whole hog with it. But from what we have, it is still a movie worth seeing despite the 'preachy' bits. Debutant Muzzamil Ibrahim does a fairly decent job. Actually it's his presence which works in his favour. He looks good but has a long way to go where acting is concerned. Tulip Joshi's character is hardly developed. She is the suicide bomber and that's about it. The actress has really nothing much to do in the movie. Anupam Kher's role is quite wasted on him. He is far too talented to do such a minuscule role. The other female actress, who plays Zaid's ex-girlfriend, is a quite a horror. Her role has been badly written and she very soon gets on one's nerves with her irritating screen presence. Pooja is to be credited for keeping the film on track. There are no unnecessary diversions. The screenplay is quite taut in that area and the pace never really slackens. All in all, an interesting film, as it throws up a new kind of protagonist in Hindi cinema.