Monday, December 11, 2023

Dekh Tamasha Dekh: Good intentions, but disappointing experience

Feroz Abbas Khan was the reason I decided to watch Dekh Tamasha Dekh first, giving Two States a skip. The trailer was engaging and I liked the way the trailer did some plain-speak. Rave reviews from some of the well-known film critics also forced me to watch it first.

I wish I had liked it because I know the intentions of the director and the writer, Shafaat Khan, are noble and they wanted to create a great social and political satire with the sole intention of shocking all of us with the stark realities of India.

However, I was not impressed. The film fails in capturing your mind and heart. And I was disappointed with the overall experience.

The problem with any effort to examine the Hindu-Muslim relations or divide in India is that those who take the pains to examine it invariably fall into the same decades-old rut.

Feroz Abbas Khan, the story writer, Shafaat Khan, too fall into the same rut. And I will enumerate these points for you that most well-intentioned filmmakers in India have been emphasizing for years.

First, that no religion is bad. Second, all religions inspire the ideas of love and humanity. Third, that there are good people in all religions.

Fourth, that there are bad elements in all religions. That politicians and vested interests play on the divide between communities and religions. That all riots are handiwork of bad elements and vested interests.

And that If there had been no bad elements, Indian society would have been a great society where people would continue living peacefully.

We have seen any number of films and read any number of books on these lines. And this is the same line that determines our main social and political discourse.

And this is the line that defines our social values and this is how we define our secular and moral character. We have been doing this for so many decades. Yet, nothing has changed. One wonders why!

Well, personally, I have a problem with such convenient political depiction of reality which tries to balance good things on both sides with bad things from both sides.

If even in 2014, we need to say that Hindus are good and Muslims are good and only the politicians and vested interests are bad, then we perhaps don�t need a Feroz Abbas Khan. Manmohan Desai�s Amar Akbar Anthony would do this in a much better and more entertaining manner.

I, personally, feel that writers, film-makers and creative people need to tell the people the hard truth in their face, much ahead of the times when truth becomes accepted by all. Avoiding truth may be a convenient politics, but it is definitely not a good art.

And in 2014, we need to be told the truth. That all religions have started suppurating. That all religions have become outdated. That all religions tell us half untruths.

Any discourse on social and political divide needs to examine this reality. And if it doesn�t, it perhaps is taking a convenient and politically correct course. Sadly, such efforts would not bring in any result.

This is the reason why I feel this movie fails miserably in capturing our imagination, despite good intentions. The movie does have ironical and satirical moments. But, you have a feeling you have seen it all, heard it all, earlier in so many other films.

I am a fan of Feroz Abbas Khan since the day I watched Gandhi, My Father. However, I am not impressed with his latest movie Dekh Tamasha Dekh.

And it may very well be my fault, because other critics are gushing over the movie. If you want, you may read rave reviews of this movie here, here and here.

However, I must say what I feel. And I feel Feroze Abbas Khan has failed to strike at the root. And the root is religion itself. I will wait for the day he decides to strike at the root itself. And a satire would be a perfect medium for that.

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