DHOOP: SAARANSH REVISITED VIA KARGIL!
By S Pankaj
The box office witnesses some 'Dhoop' (Sunlight) after a dull fortnight since the time Ramzan month followed Diwali. No big kabooms this time around Diwali, and even in the third week, jubilations are yet to be noticed. But those who like good acting and meaningful cinema can heave a sigh of relief. Lovers of drama, action and romance clear; 'Dhoop' is not for every next cinema viewer. Its aesthetic presentation deserves applaud because its director Ashwini Chaudhary (who won National Award for his debut film 'Laado', in Haryanvi) doesn't fall a prey to formula funda and sticks to his idea for dedication to meaningful cinema. The path chosen by Ashwini is not an easy one; even his predecessor like Prakash Jha had to turn to commercial films for money and space. Like Prakash, Ashwini too has the zeal to correct the society and unmask those who make the country weak by digging the pillars of the nation. 'Dhoop' is next step of realistic cinema. The film also kicks off a plethora of Kargil films, 'LoC' being the next to come and then there is 'Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon', directed by Anil Sharma. 'Dhoop' can also be termed as the first Hindi film entirely shot in national capital (New Delhi).
'Dhoop' is based on the martyrdom of Captain Anuj Nayyar who sacrificed his life on the hills of Kargil during the war with Pakistan. On July 5, 1999, Anuj was posted on Tiger Hill as a soldier of 17 Jat regiment when the bullet from across the border pierced through his chest and made him rest in peace. But the film does not talk about this incident. War is just a backdrop. The film tells more tragic story. It finds its way in the struggle of Nayaar's father that he faced when he set about to get the petrol pump allotted in his son's name built. He wished to do this in the memory of his son. Om Puri plays professor Suresh Kapoor, and Revathy is his wife. She works as a librarian.
The parents have brought up their only son with values and etiquettes from the very beginning. Sanjay Suri plays their only son, a Captain in Army and Gul Panag is Pihu, the love interest of the Captain. Mr. and Mrs. Kapoor enjoy until they receive the news of their son being killed in the battlefield. The government offers compensation, but the mother of the martyr rejects it. However, the father wants it for the sake of his son's last memory. What follows after that is a sort of replay of Mahesh Bhatt's 'Saaransh' where Anupam Kher rubs his knees in front of Babus to claim his son's ashes? Here Om Puri does the same to prove that he is the son of the late Captain.
Being a good student of cinema, Ashwini must have seen 'Saaransh' in his early career. He would have been sure that these kinds of films get instant click among those who make the so-called intellectual clout of society. Ashwini seems to be walking on the path that Mahesh Bhatt chose for himself. But to earn the reputation of a good cinema and make money later by selling the same name tagged on mediocre films is not an easy way in Bollywood. Mahesh Bhatt could do that because he had a film production company to bank upon. Here Ashwini reaches Mumbai from Delhi with no godfather. 'Dhoop' cannot be rejected instantly though it lacks many things and has only one thing to bank upon.
The film has a bad script. It starts on a low note and the mood remains somber throughout except for the song filmed on Gul and Sanjay. It takes too much time to establish the theme of the film and also to make clear as to where this film is heading. Too many songs despite some of them being very good in the voice of Jagjit Singh come as hurdles in the progress of the film. Nida Fajli's lyrics and Lalit Sen's compositions attract the viewer's attention. The story of the film is lost in between. Camera work is not very attractive. Editing is too poor to meet the expectations from the mainstream cinema. Moreover, the flash back technique of narration is not a good one for the progression of the story.
Now, the plus point of the film is the acting of Om Puri that makes the saving point. A role that demands very hard work to present emotion, grief and anger at the same time has paid off very well for Om Puri. Anupam Kher is still remembered for his role in 'Saaransh'. Whenever a reference is made for the presentation of redtapism in bureaucracy in the film, 'Dhoop' comes in with an Om Puri tag in the first place. Revathy's presence in Hindi cinema is a welcome sign, and Gul Panag is sure to get all the attention for her dimples and smiles from Bollywood with her this debut film. Sanjay Suri is okay in that short and cameo role. Gopi Desai, Virendra Saxena, Yashpal Sharma, Ganesh Yadav and Preeti Dayal have done their roles well. The film may not do good business, but as a film it is worth to watch, maybe just for the sake of Om Puri.
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