19 August 2009 | Peter_Young
The power of truth, the power of one simple woman!
The great Rajkumar Santoshi delivers "Damini", a powerful, gripping and hauntingly fascinating picture which can be rightfully called a great relief at a time when most Hindi films were poorly written. This is the story of a young girl who marries into a wealthy family. One day, during the Holi festival she witnesses a horrifying incident of her brother in-law gang-raping the housemaid Umi along with his friends. She cannot get into the closed room, and seeks help from her husband, but the two are too late. When the police comes to interrogate Damini about the physically and emotionally ravaged Umi who lies in hospital, Damini, despite all the pressure coming from her in-laws and her own husband, says the entire truth, and that's how this is taken to court. The story narrates the nightmare Damini goes through only because she is decisively stuck by her stand.
Amazingly scripted and aptly executed, Damini shocks you with its unpredictable proceedings and its disturbing and brutally honest portrayal of rape, injustice and social ignorance, without overdoing any scene in this regard. Its main goal, however, is not to portray the society as bad or unfair, but to show the power of one, and in this case, the power of one simple yet strong woman who has nothing but her truth, and who is ready to face the entire world if necessary to go with this very truth. The film is aided by pleasant music, brilliant dialogues, good editing, effective cinematography, but what makes it stand out is of course Rajkumar Santoshi's fantastic direction. Santoshi pulls this project off and delivers a product that is laden with intensity, suspense and entertainment value. He pays attention to details and extracts first-rate performances from his actors and from Meenakshi Sheshadri in particular.
Meenakshi Sheshadri, in a role of a lifetime, acts like never before. An actress who was limited to insignificant roles of the wife and the love interest in mindless action films, she is simply outstanding as Damini. She is compelling, intense and very convincing throughout the film. I also liked the "nervous breakdown" dance number she did, like the one of Sridevi in Lamhe. This is an exceptional performance. The only other actor who stands out in a big way is Sunny Deol, whose character of the good lawyer comes as a great relief. This is one of his greatest performances. Other cast members include Rishi Kapoor, who makes no impact as 'the husband', Kulbhushan Kharbanda who is good as Rishi Kapoor's father, and Amrish Puri who is as brilliant as always as the corrupted lawyer. Damini is an incredibly interesting, disturbing and ultimately inspiring piece which should not be missed by anyone.