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Dev Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, June 11, 2004 • Hindi ]
Dev Review
Amitabh Bachchan, Fardeen Khan, Kareena Kapoor,Rati Agnihotri,Om Puri
Govind Nihalani
Aadesh Shrivastav

How does it feel to be an Indian Muslim? To be constantly told by rabid elements that your real home is across the border?

Govind Nihalani's latest work -- in many ways far more powerful than his other soul-searing comments on the stench of a rotting social structure -- is arguably his best.

He constantly crosses borders in search of a creative home and pitches his tent in a twilight zone where no filmmaker dares to venture.

A Nihalani film isn't easy to watch. "Dev" raises even more complex issues than "Ardh Satya" about the politicization of the police force and "Drohkaal" on the politics of terrorism.

It talks about the isolation of the Indian Muslim in the post-Gujarat scenario when even secularists turned partisan, rendering the country's law machinery into a den of horrific violence.

Debutante writer Meenaxi Sharma's screenplay is one of the most powerful pieces of writing we've seen for Hindi cinema. The script creates a sense of all-consuming foreboding whereby the polarization of Hindus and Muslims becomes more than a power game.

It becomes symptomatic of Indian society where wily politicians, regardless of their religion, are a law unto themselves.

At the center of this terrible power structure are the two cops Dev Pratap Singh (Amitabh Bachchan) and Tejinder Khosla (Om Puri).

Dev's gradual realization of the enormity of the politics behind the isolation of minorities in India is delicately though powerfully weighed against the uni-dimensional, almost villainous communalisation of Tejinder.

"They're all terrorists," Tejinder believes and lives by his communal credo to the end.

Dev, the film's lynchpin and conscience, has a much tougher job in going by his inner voice's steep graph. He starts off as a disgusted cop who point-blank shoots a sneering insulting young man who, by chance, turns out to be Muslim.

Dev's fence-sitting political ideology lurches across a legion of metabolic changes. In a corkscrew turning point, he's attacked by a young Muslim, Farhan (Fardeen Khan) who holds Dev responsible for his old father's death during a procession that went all wrong. Here's where Nihalani steps in to show, as always, that oppression isn't peculiar to any one people.

Perhaps a tad simplistically, the film lays the blame for all the communal strife in the city  - unnamed but Vadodara by implication - on two politicians - one a Hindu and the other a Muslim.

Like Mani Ratnam's "Bombay", which was far more melodramatic, "Dev" also secretes a tender and moving love story that unfolds during a time of communal riots. Farhan's attachment to the girl next door, Aaliya (Kareena Kapoor), is celebrated through furtive glances thrown at one another from a terrace as Aadesh Shrivastava's haunting melody creates a sublime subtext for the routine milieu.

The love story works mainly because Fardeen and Kareena are so comfortable as a pair. Kareena doesn't have much to do except steal into Fardeen's abode with trays of home-cooked food. As in "Yuva", she not only transforms completely into a character but also creates substantial space for it.

In her two key sequences where she tries to stop Fardeen from taking to the gun and later comes forward before the police commission to expose powerful rioters, Kareena's face effortlessly becomes a map of the human heart.

Fardeen's face mirrors enduring turmoil and conflict. His role as the disgruntled young Muslim echoes Hrithik Roshan in Khalid Mohamed's "Fiza". But the echoes are far more restrained.

In a role that

Rating: 0 / 5.0


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