Dharm & India at the Oscars


Those of you in India with a passion for cinema and those of you with a passion for news would have heard of this movie. If you do not belong to one or both of these categories, it is very unlikely you would have heard or viewed this movie.

Obviously, I couldn't catch it's theatrical release although it was advertised sufficiently on TV channels and the thanks to The Oscars® it got more publicity than the film maker debutante Bhavana Talwar would have ever imagined. How is that, you might ask? I will tell you and that's the reasons for the combined title to this post.

Having watched Ekalvya, India's official entry to the Oscars® and of course it didn't make it to the final nominations, I believed then that the movie in spite of its colour and grandeur was completely soul-less and was put together by a director who gave more attention to the colours, scenes rather than the story and script. When I watched Ekalavya I never in my wildest dreams thought it possible that it would be my country's official entry to the Oscars® but then in a country of over a Billion people with complex emotions and needs, anythings possible. Shockingly Ekalvya was the official entry to the Oscars® ! Bahavani Talwar, the director of Dharm then went to court cotending the selection and I wondered why !I watched Dharm on VCD and I realised why.

Dharm is far superior to Ekalvya in all means, in performances- Pankaj Kapur as the staunch Brahmin pundit (in Dharm) scores easily over Amitabh mumbling into his beard (in Ekalvya), in story- Dharm is a simple story, although done over many times of a staunch Brhamin and his battle with faith after affection, human bonding enter the fray compared to a so called royal thriller where the ancient walls of the palace hid secrets (in Ekalvya), in film making- Benares actually plays a role in Dharm with some wonderful cinematography and in direction-Bhavana Talwar keeps it simple and sticks to a simple tale. Overall, Mr Vidhu Vindod chopra (director and producer of Ekalvya) could learn a thing or two. I guess Mr Chopra still basks in his past glory (which had its merit) and has become more of a producer now than a director. If he's going to churn out more Ekalvyas and believe they deserve nothing less than an Oscar® representing my country's films then I for one, would request him to relocate to another country perhaps which does not have rich film-making talent.

Dharm, while being a far superior to Ekalvya does not rise above being a good debut film with fine performances primarily due to the fact that the storyline is not unique and with a catch line like-come challenge your faith, you would only I think-I've heard this before. The movie is till worth watching and buying a VCD (if not a DVD) of, for it gives you a rare glimpse into culture, tradition and emotions that you do not see often today.

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