Cast: Satish Kaushik, Vinay Jain, Tanvi Azmi
Director: Feroz Abbas Khan
The Indian Express Rating: ***
A village somewhere in Maharashtra is a microcosm of India today, with religious and ethnic and class strife spilling murderously out into the streets. ‘Dekh Tamasha Dekh’ is fashioned as a satire, and at its best, it does what all satires must : it stings.
Here’s director Feroz Abbas Khan’s motley bunch : a publisher ( Kaushik) of a local rag, who has no religion other than profit , an editor who learns which way his bread is buttered, a writer whose book is burnt, a body which could be either Hindu or Muslim, and a village split down the middle.
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The dead man is a drunk who was apparently of no account in his lifetime, except giving his wife, now widow ( Azmi), a load of grief. In his death he turns into a trigger : the Hindus claim he is theirs and that the body should be handed over to them, the Muslims counter-claim. The newly appointed top cop ( Jain) tries to tamp things down, but everything spirals out of control. And everybody is a victim, including a pair of winsome young lovers from the opposite sides of the religious divide.
Khan’s film gets into theatrical territory every once in a while, but there is no denying its terrifying power. He pulls no punches, and paints extremism from both sides equally black : the Hindu man in saffron whose every word is an affront and the Muslim cleric whose only job is to incite. The liberal middle, and this where the film’s sympathies lie very clearly, is being tossed about and put upon and shrunk : there’s a Muslim journalist who is shooed away when he tries to protest, and a Hindu ‘vidwaan’ ( learned man) who becomes symbolically and actually deaf when he takes off his hearing aid.
This is an important film, and I do hope it gets seen widely, timely and topical as it is in the time of Muzzafarnagar, misguided mullahs and modified bhakts.
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