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 politicisation 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 polarisation 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 centre of this terrible power structure are the two cops Dev Pratap Singh (Amitabh Bachchan) and Tejinder Khosla (Om Puri).
Dev's gradual realisation 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.