Khalid Mohamed's second directorial offering Tehzeeb dwells on a troubled and turbulent mother daughter relationship. He succeeds for most part of the film though as a complete product, Tehzeeb leaves much to be desired.
Rukhsana Jamal is a singer who's cutting albums and making news even in the prime of her career (a la Asha Bhosle). Married to Anwar (Rishi Kapoor) who's going through tough times and a mother of two daughters, Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar) and Nazneen (Diya Mirza), Rukhsana seems to be on her own trip. She's got it all - name, fame and adulation and she seems to have traded it all with her home and hearth. While she is busy running the house by staying out of it for most part of the time, it's the father who looks after the two young girls. But matters reach a head when Anwar can't take his wife's popularity and her alleged affair with another man and commits suicide. A very impressionable, young Tehzeeb is witness to it and from then on she nurses a hatred and contempt for her mother. The film deals with how the mother and daughter bare their souls to each other and resolve their differences. Salim Mirza (Arun Rampal) plays Tehzeeb's husband and is a writer by profession.
Mohamed has penned a very sensitive script, which peels off the layers of the stressful relationship Rukhsana shares with her daughter Tehzeeb. Every time the temperamental Rukhsana meets up with the volatile Tehzeeb, the screenplay is all fire. The two actresses almost make it a super slanging match to which Salim and the mentally challenged Nazu are silent witnesses. The film makes a few pertinent points like what exactly should a woman do if she's both a wife and mother and a career woman? Is it wrong on her part to single-mindedly pursue her career? Or does she become an ideal woman if she relegates herself only to domestic chores? For instance, Rukhsana at one point asks Tehzeeb that if her father had become popular and successful wouldn't she have been proud of him, so why does she hold it against her mother, is it because she is a woman?
While the mother and daughter keep you riveted every time they appear on screen, you wish Mohamed had made the other characters interesting too. The intermission point when the heated exchange between the two women reaches its peak, you expect the second half to cash in on it. Instead the director starts floundering and the film loses its pace. Also, wish he had dwelled more on the so-called 'ishq' between Anwar and Rukhsana. Again, Rukhsana's relationship with her other daughter could have been handled more deftly. Salim with his ready humour and brilliant charm does lighten up things but after a point stops impressing. Ditto Dia Mirza whose portrayal of the mentally challenged Nazu is such that you wonder if anything is wrong with her at all. Diana Hayden as the sexy publisher is quite bad. What point was Mohamed trying to make with her character? Another sore point are the songs - though the music by A R Rahman and Javed Akhtar's lyrics are good - which are a misfit in the film. The director can do away with at least two songs.
Santosh Sivan's cinematography (especially the song picturisations) and Javed Siddiqui's dialogues are the high points of the film. In terms of performances, Rampal shows a flair for comedy though overdoes it at times, Shabana Azmi expectedly delivers a knock-out performance but it's Urmila who not only looks good and sexy in the Meherbaan song but gives such a splendid, nuanced performance that you really feel she's Tehzeeb and no other actress could have done justice to her character. The smouldering anger, the dripping sarcasm, the affection and longing for her mother, the unconditional love for her younger sister - Urmila as Tehzeeb does it all and she does it brilliantly.
All said and done, Khalid Mohamed does a fair job in handling the tumultuous mother-daughter relationship but we hope the next time he gives attention to the rest of the film as well.