As Gul Panag’s Turning 30 gets ready for a release, I am reminded of a Gul film I absolutely loved – from a time when the name Nagesh Kukunoor meant something.
I was finally able to get my hands on what was being hyped as possibly the best film of 2006. When there is so much hype I immediately become a skeptic – on the lookout for any flaws. So I watched this film in no complacent frame of mind – no way was I simply gonna like it because others did. Three hours later, I was compelled to write a few lines about this film.
The story is simplistic – Zeenat (Gul Panag) and Aamir (Rushad Rana) marry in remote Himachal Pradesh against his parents wishes and then he goes off to Dubai. In the meantime, far away in Rajasthan, Meera (Ayesha Takia) and Shankar (Anirudh Jayakar) are married and he is getting ready to go off to Dubai. The thread is being spun.. Meera and Zeenat go through many months of separation from their spouses, living for the monthly phone call, the letters. Then one day the unthinkable happens – Meera is told Shankar is dead, Zeenat told that her husband stands accused of the murder and must die unless the widow of the deceased signs a form saying she forgives him. Zeenat does not know who the wife is but is of indomitable will and sets off on a long journey to find her and convince her to sign the piece of paper. The thread is now being pulled together.. With the help of a Behroopiya (Shreyas Talpade) Zeenat eventually finds Meera, and slowly begins to get close to her. The thread is slowly woven into a fabric of friendship.. Eventually Meera finds out that Zeenat was using the friendship to get her to sign that piece of paper and rejects the friendship. The fabric is about to be rent apart… Meera’s life is in turmoil as her husband;s family feels acute need for the money he would send home each month. Will Meera realize exactly what gift Zeenat has bestowed on her? Will Zeenat be able to save her wrongly accused husband? The movie has no clichés, no pat answers, no hackneyed situations, and in the end we are left with an overwhelming sense of the triumph of humanity.
Nagesh Kukunoor wrote and directed a masterpiece in Dor. The film never drags, never leaves you incredulous, and is sometimes saddening, but in the end extremely heartwarming. It is extremely feminist in its views, but not in a shrill way – it never preaches, just points the way. The characters of Zeenat and Meera are drawn in a masterly way, you feel for both, understand both, sympathize with both, want to be like both – yet they are as different as chalk and cheese. The performances are outstanding – I am hard-pressed to pick favorites between Gul and Ayesha. Where Ayesha charms with her childlike simplicity, her quiet fortitude, and her occasional bouts of mischief, Gul sneaks into your heart with her strong but gentle nature, her quite strength of will, her single-minded belief that her husband cannot be a killer. Shreyas Talpade is charming as the thief/mime/mimic/man of many talents! He takes on every filmi hero known to us, changes costumes at the drop of a hat and is charming, cunning and vulnerable.
Outstanding moments in the film include Ayesha’s finding out her husband is dead, Gul’s telling Ayesha who she is and why she is really there, the grandmother telling the mother that one day she too will be on this side of the door, Ayesha’s dancing to You are My Sonia in widows’s garb, the dance in the desert, too many others to name. The music is excellent, the songs filled my heart and pleased my mind. I am drunk on the feel of this film.
This is a keeper and the film to watch when you are feeling blue. It will take away your sorrows and make you believe in the joy of being human.