Sunday, May 27, 2007

So what if the heart is broken? Dor

If you're like me and somehow haven't yet seen this lovely, thoughtful film, drop whatever you're doing and go, go, go. Of all its many strengths, I think the most important is how simply it asks and explores some very complex and emotional questions: What does a person's life really consist of? Why are we so easily tempted not to be generous and forgiving? Why do we resist love softening us? Why do we let fear keep us from joy? Why do we let sadness squash our dreams and hearts? In a world in which men control most aspects of women's lives and often hold them back, put them down, why do women not support one another? Dor shows us that maybe it really isn't so hard to be a better person. We are connected, and we must take care of each other. If you can speak honestly, it isn't that hard to express what you need, and responding to others isn't too difficult either.

A user on imdb commented that simple movies can be the hardest ones to make in India. Dor doesn't use much filmi bombast, but its colors, music, words, and emotions are genuine and rich. And its lessons about the right to live your own life with consciousness of others, aboutoffering love, and about being honest and brave all come shining through, with no extra glitz or histrionics necessary. Dor is a wonderfully different look at ideas we've heard mentioned in plenty of other...what's the adjective form of "rainbow"?... and melodramatic places (of which I am equally fond, obviously). I won't say that Dor is stripped down because I think that implies something has been taken away from it or that it's missing something, which it very clearly is not. It's not sparse and it's not bland - it's just not filmi. Impeccable performances from everyone, beautiful use of color and landscape, a few moments that let you let go of the tears that have been welling up in your eyes, and voila! This movie is as close to perfect as any I've seen.

Some of my favorite moments:

  • the film's willingness to point out and discuss some of the problematic ways women treat each other - and optimistically showing each woman put aside her own issues or what has been done to her in order to help another
  • both of Meera's dances to "You Are My Soniya" - I especially like in the second one that she looks around first to make sure no one can see her, which is what I usually do before dancing in my living room too
  • ...and the other film references, like Beharoopiya's dialogues (would somebody please post what they all are?), the SRK cutout in the photo shop, and of course "Kajra Re" in the desert
  • Meera holding out her dish to get another helping at the sweet shop
  • both women admitting to themselves the meaning of their friendship
  • Zeenat silently asking Meera to join her on the train - and Meera's honest leap to do so
So, so good.

Update to post (May 30, 2007): I forgot some important things. 1) Go to Sanket's post to read more and hear the title song. 2) Dor proves that it really is not impossible to write interesting, substantial, weighty, and still fun roles for women, and writer/director Nagesh Kukunoor deserves a big hug for making an intelligent movie about intelligent women. When will this be the norm instead of the exception? 3) I think Dor should be considered as a feminist story. For me, feminism mostly boils down to the right for every woman to truly, freely consider and make her own choices, and that's an important part of what the women think and do (and the Behroopiya too, really). 4) In case it doesn't go without saying so specifically, big hugs are also in store for Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag, who are both stellar beyond words. I haven't seen Gul in anything before, but Ayesha...well, I've seen her in two fairly similar roles as Akshaye's bland but pleasant and beleaguered girlfriend, and clearly she deserves better than that. It also raises the question of whether many of the current actresses about whom I feel "enh" - basically everyone except Rani, Tabu, Preity, Aish, and Konkona - could similarly rise to the occasion quite beautifully if only they had something to work with.

11 comments:

ggop said...

This is so awesome! I watched this movie yesterday on netflix :-) What a coincidence! Gave it 5 stars - your review reminded me why!

Hope Nagesh Kukoonoor keeps making good films. He has grown - from Hyderabad Blues to Teen Deewarein to now Dor.
gg

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Oh I loved Dor too. I had no idea that Ayesha Takia could act till I saw her in this movie.

I wonder why we don't see Gul in too many movies though.

umananda said...

Loved the movie as well. After reading your take i feel like quoting Sinead O Connor:

"The opposite of patriachy is not matriachy- but fraternity"

payal said...

I agree, a wonderful film! I especially loved the Kajra Re dance, it was so cute. I think I even liked it more than the original version!

Joyce said...

It showed that a woman can be strong and independent-minded without giving up her traditions. It's not either-or.

Speaking of film references, I watched it again last night, and I caught a bit of the music from "Hum Tum." I rewound (does one rewind a DVD?) a few times just to be sure. I wonder how many film references were in this movie?

Aswin said...

There's a nice "the making of dor" video in which kukunoor and the actors talk about the script, etc. Take a look: http://indiafm.com/broadband/video/3/index2.html

Sanket Vyas said...

Great post Beth! It simply stated what I have been telling anyone & everyone I know about my favorite film of 2006 - see it, don't ask any questions - just see it. I really like the title song as well - posted it up on my blog if you want to stop by for a listen ;)

--Sunrise-- said...

Now I HAVE to watch this film!

Sharon said...

seriously, after having seen the malayalam movie dor was based on, I was totally unimpressed by Dor.

That movie was real in a way Dor never even approached. I mean, Gul Panag's character never even considers the fact that her quest might fail, never despairs - and to me, that struck a very false note.

Beth said...

From reader Meera via email:
"Dor is a beautiful movie. You can see Nagesh acknowleding the original malayalam version in the title credits. The malayalam movie was also based on a true incident reported in the kerala press. This actually happened to two women based in Kerals whose husbands were working in the Middle East.

Malayalam films are known for their realistic stories, acting etc. So it is not surprising that sharon liked the original much better. Remakes can never match originals. For eg Hindi Saathiya i think hardly matches up to the oriignal tamil version of Mani Ratnam's Alaypayuthe! Another example is Dil to Pagal Hai which is a poor copy of the Hollywood movie "Fast Forward". I liked the original much better.

Having said that , I think Nagesh has done well too in adapting it in hindi. He has even changed the setting of the story from kerala to HP and Rajasthan.

I personally liked Dor very much for the way Nagesh has treated the subject. I agree with Beth that such sensitivity in dealing with themes relating ot women is the exception rather than the norm in hindi movies."

Prashant said...

In fact the true incident came to light only after the movie was released. There was a press conference with the director and stars of the movie along with the man who had similar real life incident. He was encouraged by his friends who saw the movie to make his story public and approach the director.

The IMDB link.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425350/