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.
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
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.
In fact, the Bachchan-Shrivastava
combination has always worked. Whether it was "Major Saab
" or "Baghban
", and now "Dev
", the composer seems to be fully inspired when he tunes for a Bachchan
" isn't an album about gimmicky sounds. It pulls no punches and yet manages to wallop a smart blow on our sensibilities. The versatile and virile sounds include my favourite track "Allah hoo
" where Shrivastava
gets vocally ambitious in the seductive company of the inimitable Asha Bhosle
Seldom in any of her recent songs has Bhosle
sounded so richly articulate. The first rate arrangement of the track makes "Allah hoo
" a rhythmic tour de force.
From the splendid Sufi sounds that open "Rang deehni
", where Kailash Khare
sings the secular words of Nida Fazli
about the "Bhagvad Gita
" co-existing with the "Quran
", to the closing moments when the soundtrack reaches an unforgettable climax, "Dev
" is a musical odyssey that we aren't likely to forget in a hurry.
This is certainly one of the finest, most vibrant albums of the season, and one that proves Aadesh Shrivastava
to be one of our most worthy composers.
For the discerning listener, "Dev
" is a once-in-a-blue moon experience. As for those who just want to hear Kareena
croon, there's a treat waiting for you. Go for it.