Monday, 30th October 2017

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Bolt called Damini

It’s a film that’s dated and yet eminently watchable. Today’s Damini would record a video of her raped domestic help accusing the rich Gupta family’s younger son and his entitled-thug friends and post it on social media, the viral storm tearing to shreds slimy lawyer Indrajit Chaddha and his shape-shifting witnesses. No need for underdog lawyer Govind to holler “Tareekh pe tareekh, tareekh pe tareekh” at the risk of putting his vocal cords on a wheelchair. 

By Sulagana Biswas
  • Published 6.04.18
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It’s a film that’s dated and yet eminently watchable. Today’s Damini would record a video of her raped domestic help accusing the rich Gupta family’s younger son and his entitled-thug friends and post it on social media, the viral storm tearing to shreds slimy lawyer Indrajit Chaddha and his shape-shifting witnesses. No need for underdog lawyer Govind to holler “Tareekh pe tareekh, tareekh pe tareekh” at the risk of putting his vocal cords on a wheelchair. 

Damini — Lightning, written and directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, released 25 years ago in April 1993, when satellite TV had changed entertainment but “hot male” was still Milind Soman. But the film, in a year of Baazigar and Darr, still holds its own, possibly because of the earnestness of Meenakshi Sheshadri’s performance as the upright girl Damini who fights the world — including corrupt lawyer Chaddha (suitably creepy Amrish Puri), slimy-wealthy in-laws (Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Rohini Hattangadi in fine fettle) and a spineless yet loving husband enacted with great understated charm by Rishi Kapoor —to punish the rapists of her domestic servant. With some help from a seen-better-days, alcoholic lawyer Govind played to screaming, brooding perfection by Sunny Deol. 

The gripping courtroom dramas with changing witness testimonies still make one chuckle grimly at the slippery nature of truth. Amid the melodrama and the machismo of forces good and evil, Damini is about the aam aurat’s conviction that brings the powerful to their knees. 

Twenty-five years later, Damini blazes bright in the year of the anti-hero Shah Rukh Khan.