Fundamental Films and Dream Boat Entertainment P. Ltd.'s DHOOP has all the ingredients for a perfect recipe of meaningful and sensible cinema ï¿½ a director who has won the National Award in his debut film LAADO, immensely talented actors Om Puri and Revathi and former Miss India ï¿½ Universe Gul Panag and an incident that's straight out of life.
Despite the impressive names involved, the film appeals only in patches. There are some brilliantly executed sequences, no doubt, but when viewed in totality, it does not succeed in creating an indelible impression.
Om Puri is a professor, while his wife Revathi is a librarian. Their only son, Sanjay Suri, is a captain in the Indian army.
While the couple goes about as usual with their routine chores, the niggling worry of their son fighting at the border in Kargil is always playing on their minds. Gul Panag is the love interest of Sanjay.
In an unfortunate turn of events, comes the news of Sanjay being killed while fighting in Kargil. The world collapses for the trio. As the family is engulfed in sorrow comes a letter from the Home Ministry informing that the government has allotted a petrol pump as an acknowledgement for the services of their son.
Revathi rejects the offer outright. However, some cajoling from Om Puri wins her over and the couple decides to keep their son's memory alive through this petrol pump.
Nonetheless, what follows is a long and exhausting struggle against the corrupt system to get the petrol pump started. Right from the allocation of land to obtaining no-objection certificates from various government departments, the journey is full of obstacles, which refuses to move aside unless they get their monetary considerations fulfilled.
However, the couple's perseverance pays off and they get their due eventually.
Based on a real-life incident, DHOOP tackles a genre that is entirely and purely performance-based. Director Ashwini Chaudhary narrates a subject that is beyond the norms and dictates of commercial cinema. He is focussed all throughout in his approach on portraying the incidents that take place after the battle is over, very much evident from the fact that not once does the narrative divert towards the battlefield. Also, he executes the various emotional scenes with aplomb and expertise, which are the very essence of this concept. Must say, the human element is very strong!
Despite the various highs, the film falters badly in the screenplay department. The pace throughout is very slow, very lethargic to be precise, though it gathers some momentum towards the latter part of the second half.
In an attempt to garner audience sympathy, too much footage has been devoted to portraying the anguish and sorrow of the bereaved parents. The crux, the struggle of the parents to acquire the petrol pump against all odds, comes to the fore only post-interval.
Also, too many songs in the first half drag the proceedings. Further, the struggle of the parents once again exposes the corruption prevalent in the system, something that has been witnessed innumerable times by the viewers in the past.
Dialogues are of superior quality, complimenting the genre and the situation perfectly. Music [Lalit Sen] is fair, although certain songs stand out for their rich lyrical value [Nida Fazli].
As mentioned earlier, the film is purely performance-based and how well the two lead characters have shouldered the responsibility! It's the histrionics displayed by Om Puri and Revathi that elevates the proceedings and inculcate life into every frame. Gul Panag makes a fair debut and manages to stand her own against the two stalwarts. Sanjay Suri impresses in a cameo.
On the whole, DHOOP is at best a fair attempt, but from the box-office point of view, an offbeat theme, almost nil publicity, absence of a hi-profile star cast and the Ramzan period [a sizeable section of cinegoers stays away from theatres] will spell doom. The film may find a niche audience in a select few multiplexes, that's about it. All in all, can't really bask in this dhoop.