Making a film mocking the sacred cows isn't easy in this country where every artiste stumbles on a sensitive organisation, green saffron or yellow, every step along his way.
Film: Dharam Sankat Mein;
Director: Fuwad Khan;
The makers of Dharam Sankat Mein (DSM) must be
applauded for going where angels and agnostics fear to
Of course, Raj Kumar Hirani's PK did it recently, how
can we forget? And before that Umesh Shukla's Oh My God
(OMG). Much of Rawal's performance in his new religious satire is a
repeat of what he has already done in OMG.
Now there is the added responsibility and burden of representing
the BJP. Rawal takes on the tricky task of being both non-religious
and finally hugely respectful towards all religions.
To make his pro-government stand even more cogent, the film is
shot in and around Ahmedabad in the lives and colonies of Gujarati
families. This gives the narrative a quaint and comfortable
lived-in structure even when the dialogues raise thorny issues on
the Great Religious Divide.
The film outwardly seems to scoff at ritualistic religion. The
script, derived from Josh Apignanesi's "The Infidel" turns the
satire on anti-Semitism to a pro-Islamic statement. The very idea
of talking religion so openly on screen seems audacious
There are scenes in the early part of the film where Rawal's
Gujarati Hindu character scuffles verbally with his Muslim
neighbour, played with emphatic elan by Annu Kapoor. These scenes
are the backbone of the film. The dialogues penetrate sacrosanct
spaces occupied by both the religious orders, offending both and
thereby hurting none, so to speak.
Hats off the Rawal and Kapoor and the dialogue writers (Alpesh
Dixit, Sanjay Sharma, Vijay Desai) for the absorbing lines shared
by the two characters.
Pithy' the words are lost in contrived translation. In trying to
be faithful to the original material, Dharam Sanket Mein
ends up being a bit of a botch and a whole lot of hash. The twist
when Rawal's wife suspects him of having a homosexual affair with
his neighbour fitted in well into the original. Here it looks
forced and embarrassing.
"Tumhe kya lagta hai main gay hoon? Main bilkul straight hoon,"
Rawal chuckles to his screen wife, making you wish he was gay after
all...Perhaps the tedium of tirelessly lampooning ritualistic
religion would have broken.
The film's main dramatic core when Rawal discovers his Islamic
parentage is squandered in trying to be sassy and funny. Throughout
the film while Rawal discovers his religious identity, audiences
become more and more confused about their own religious
Adding to the identity crisis are the songs. Punjabi star Gippy
Singh shows up dancing to Bhangra beat whose significance is as
hard to decode as the reason why Naseer would take up a role so
Naseeruddin Shah as the Hindu godman Neel Anand Baba is quite
evidently modeled on a certain self-styled rock-star guru. Naseer
seems to have a lot of fun chanting the cheesy lines and being
extra-friendly with female devotees. The fun, alas, never filters
down to the audience.
There is an inherent dryness to the drama that is hard to
ignore. And even harder to digest. As the screenplay serenades a
stupendous surfeit of absurdities, you are left counting the
blessings inherent in the theme of infidelity.
It gives filmmakers the freedom to think out of the box. Though
how far that freedom is taken is entirely a matter of individual
Dharam Sankat Mein has some lucid moments of
self-questioning where the religious divide is pungently
scrutinized and satirized. Hilarity at the cost of organised
religion is not an easy target to achieve for any
This films achieves a remarkable threshold of thoughtful humour. Though a lot of it is gradually eroded by over-punctuated satire, this is that rare film which takes potshots at the religious divide without offending anyone.