Review by Vinoo
Language : Hindi
Director : Mani Kaul
Based on a Rajasthani folk tale ‘Duvidha’ (‘Undecision’, says IMDB, ‘dilemma’, I’d say) tells the story of a merchant’s son and his bride. To make matters interesting a ghost falls in love with the new bride to complete the triangle. The merchant’s son has to set out to a far away town to take up a job. That leaves the bride all alone. The ghost seizes the opportunity and accosts the bride in the guise of her husband. The ghost even confesses that he is indeed a ghost in the guise of her husband. Things are normal until news reaches the merchant’s son that his wife is pregnant. He is shocked and comes back home immediately, where his father stops him at the door calling him an impostor. The merchant’s son tries everything he can but to no avail. He recalls one thing that his bride mentions when he was bringing her along for the very first time and hopes that incident, that is bringing her the fruit that she loves, will help win his case but to no avail. Who would she choose, the one who married her or the one who has been with her ever since?
It is decided that they approach the king for a solution to the problem. En-route, they chance upon a shepherd who offers to solve this problem. He gives simple chores to both the men, and having figured, presumably, who the ghost is, he captures him in a bag and throws him into a well. Well… if he did indeed get rid of the ghost or the ghost got the better of him is left to your imagination. The merchant’s son is united with his wife and life goes on. The tight shots and shades of red leave you with so many rich visuals that is a treat.
‘Duvidha’ is so much more than what it presumably is on the surface. It is a comment and at the same time a close look at relationships from a woman’s point of view too.
‘Duvidha’ is based on a story by Vijayadan Detha and stars Ravi Menon (of Malayalam film fame) and the very pretty Raisa Padamsee. The cinematography by Navroze Contractor is fabulous. I recall some of the top shots of the bullock cart heading home and some of the tight still frames of the beautiful Raisa Padamsee in particular. Music by folk musicians Ramzan Hammu, Latif and Saqi Khan adds so much to the film. Ravi Patnaik has done a fantastic editing job. What a team.
Most of you will recall Amol Palekar’s ‘Paheli’ which is also based on the same story. I would think Girish Karnad’s ‘Nagamandala’ is pretty similar too.
Mani Kaul passed away on 06 July 2012. What better tribute to him than watch his movies. In case any of you want to watch his movies, here goes ‘Cloud door’, ‘Dhrupad’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Satha Se Uthta Aadmi’.
Also watched ‘Before My Eyes’ and ‘Naukar Ki Kameez’. That leaves a few more to be watched. Hope to source them, particularly ‘Ghasiram Kotwal’. For those of you who are interested, you can buy the three-pack Mani Kaul DVD ‘Nazar’, ‘Uski Roti’ and ‘Duvidha’ on www.flipkart.com and ‘Siddeswari’ and ‘Dhrupad’ on the Film Division site. Also hope to watch this year’s National Award winner Punjabi film, ‘Anhey Gorhey Da Daan‘(Alms for a blind horse), produced by Mani Kaul. Guess he did foresee the power of the script, which is why he produced it. While it is ‘Uski Roti‘ (Our daily bread) that has got rave reviews my personal favourite is ‘Siddeshwari’.
Watched ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ the final part of the Batman trilogy. Only Nolan could have signed off this way. But then, I’d expected better from the man who gave Batman some character. He has other supermen to resurrect now. Also watched Anand Patwardhan’s ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ where the music adds so much character to the film. ‘Harud’, about Kashmiri pundits, is a must watch even if you are catching it at the pathetic PVR where all they are bothered about is selling coffee and popcorn before and during the show, and chasing you out even before the credits roll. ‘Gattu’ disappeared even before you could figure, presumably to make way for the likes of ‘Cocktail’. Sigh!
Useless Trivia : The entire film credits of ‘Duvidha’ is handwritten. I wonder whose handwriting it is.
Born Rabindranath Kaul, Mani Kaul, was a student of Ritwik Ghatak at the Film and Television Institute of India. He won the National Award for ‘Duvidha’ and ‘Siddeshwari’.