6 June 2009 | jkysharma
Afghanistan for Sicily
RGV's Sarkar begins with the director admitting to being deeply influenced by The Godfather like countless directors all over the world. Feroz Khan's Dharmatma marks the beginning of this obsession with Indian film-makers. Given the exalted status of The Godfather with nearly every cinema buff and the fact that adaptations in the Indian milieu have resulted in films like Nayakan and Parinda, I thought Dharmatma was worth a watch. Having watched it, I've to say that despite the patchy feel of the film, there are items of interest here and noteworthy too.
Foremost among them is the portion of the film that plays out in Afghanistan (a first for Indian cinema). Hema Malini (as an Afghan clanswoman named Reshma !), Danny Denzongpa and Feroz Khan spice up this sequence that is remarkably well shot by any standards (Buzkashi) and lingers long after the viewing. Premnath in the title role is the other interesting aspect of the film. I'd seen him in Bobby but little else. His portrayal here is just as interesting in its angst and justification for the means he adopts as is the employment of matka (an Indian form of gambling). That it isn't expanded upon is more to do with the way the script handles the character.
Apart from these, the viewing also made me think about the meaning of the word adaptation in the cinematic idiom. When one is besotted with an original, how does one strike a balance between faithful recreation and assuming creative license ? Even more valid is the question - how does one identify the aspects of the original that may not be acceptable to the target audience of the adaptation ? For Feroz Khan in this film shares very little with Michael Corleone and undergoes a transformation so minimal in that his fundamentals are hardly shaken by the turn of events. In an act of complete dilution, he is also spared the moral dilemma of having to plan the demise of his brother-in-law too.