11 July 2011 | jmathur_swayamprabha
The lightning of conscience
Rape is that heinous crime in which the culprit escapes punishment due to the social structure as well as the law being heavily tilted in his favour and the victim, i.e., the raped woman has no option but to swallow her tears and live her life with the unhealable wounds on her heart and soul. Mostly, such cases are either not registered or aborted before reaching the court. And even when any such case reaches the court of justice, the defendant's lawyer takes the advantage of the legal loopholes and save his client for whom the acquittal proves to be a moral booster to repeat the crime with someone else. Damini is a movie which deals with this issue with utmost gravity and sincerity.
There is one apex court above all the worldly courts, the court of conscience which no criminal or anybody aiding and abetting him can escape. Where all the worldly courts fail in their job, the court of conscience takes the charge. Though in today's world, hardcore criminals have buried their conscience also deep down the earth, never allowing it to surface agai; nevertheless conscience plays its role at least for those who are not tainted themselves but don't raise their voice due to the fear of social obloquy or blood relations with the culprits. This fact is emphatically brought to fore in the climax of Damini (lightning).
Damini (1993) starts with the love of Rishi Kapoor as Shekhar and Meenakshi Sheshadri being in the title role. Shekhar is the eldest son of a rich business house whereas Damini is from an ordinary family. Damini who is trying to adjust herself to the hostile environment in the family is stunned to see the maid being raped by her brother-in-law and his friends. She could not save her honour but then she makes up her mind to make her get justice. Quite naturally, she finds herself all alone in this compaign with all her in-laws going against her and her loving husband preferring to be the silent spectator to their activities in the name of the family's honour.
Situation gets from bad to worse for Damini when the maid is killed in the hospital, the crooked lawyer (Amrish Puri) hired by her in-laws proves her as insane in the court so that her testimony is not taken into cognizance by the court and even the sympathetic police inspector (Vijayendra Ghatge) also proves himself to be greedy of tangible beneifts instead of doing his duty diligently to ensure justice to the victim. Imprisoned in an asylum, everything seems to be bleak for her. But when she is able to escape from it, fortune make her cross path with another desperate person Govind (Sunny Deol) who, despite being a laywer, could not get justice when his wife was killed in a hit and run accident and is now trying to find solace in alcohol. In Damini's relentless quest for justice, Govind also gets a purpose for living. However since the criminals are too strong to allow any evidence against to survive, finally justice is ensured when the slept conscience of Shekhar awakens and the failure of worldly court is overshadowed by the victory of the court of Shekhar's conscience.
A hard-hitting movie, Damini is thoroughly impressive and keeps the viewer hooked throughout. It's an intense movie with only the songs providing some relief in between. The biggest credit for making this movie a success goes to its director Rajkumar Santoshi who has rendered utmost reality to the narrative sans the court-room scenes (especially those involving Sunny Deol). The theatricals in the court-room are the only unreal thing shown in the movie because nowhere in India (and the world too), such kind of rhetoric and shouting is allowed by the judges. Otherwise, the A class direction of Santoshi has kept the narrative not only engrossing but also hitting the conscience of the viewers at the appropriate places with appropriate force. Santoshi has crafted each and every scene with the finesse of a devoted artist. A very well made movie indeed.
Rajkumar Santoshi is said to have been in love with the heroine, Meenakshi Sheshadri (who is said to have turned down his proposal). May be due to this personal reason or otherwise, Santoshi gave the role of a lifetime and she excelled like anything. Obese Rishi Kapoor alongwith Amrish Puri and the supporting cast has done well. But it's Sunny Deol who remains with the audience after the movie is over. His over-the-top but very very effective performance make him win the national award for the best actor and his dialogues are still remembered by the people. He is brilliant not only in action and dialogue-delivery but also expressing his anguish and frustration through his gestures.
Technically the movie is A class. The length is quite OK and the production value is high. Dialogues (despite the rhetoric and the over-dramatic tone) are just like hitting the nail right on its head. Nadeem-Shravan's music is good with the beautiful lyrics having been penned by Sameer.
I recommend this socially relevant and eye-opening movie to all those who like meaningful cinema and who believe that the voice of your conscience cannot be suppressed or ignored forever.