Striking visual design

Dor Director: Nagesh Kukunoor Cast: Ayesha Takia, Gul Panag, Shreyas Talpade, Girish Karnad, Uttara Baokar 7/10

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 29.09.06


Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Cast: Ayesha Takia, Gul Panag, Shreyas Talpade, Girish Karnad, Uttara Baokar


Silver moon lit cool blue sky grazes lush green rolling hills of Himachal. Scorching hot sun shines brightly over golden-yellow sand dunes of Rajasthan. With these contrasting landscapes of breathtaking natural beauty, we’re introduced to two young women as different in temperament and spirit as the climate and ethos of their regions.

Zeenat — reticent, gentle yet strong-willed working girl married to Aamir. Meera — vivacious child-woman, oppressed Rajput bahu married to Shankar. So what’s the connection between these two strangers? A tragic incident (accident?) binds them with a common thread entwining their lives. A dor which director Nagesh Kukunoor pulls out to string together his new film’s storyline.

Aamir is sentenced to death for allegedly killing Shankar and can be saved only if Shankar’s widow pardons him. Can Zeenat convince Meera to sign the official maafi-naama.

This is Kukunoor’s most expensive film so far, evident from the grand scale, the lavish locales and technical slickness, which clearly distinguishes Dor from his previous films (Hyderabad Blues, Iqbal). Ironically, what’s also evident is that with Dor, Kukunoor’s own brand of relatively low-budget, offbeat and rudimentary style of filmmaking gets a little lost. Lost in a more well-mounted and glossy but standardised and homogeneous quality that defines mainstream cinema today.

But you know what? Never mind that, because the film works at a fundamental level. A straightforward dramatic story about love, loss, friendship, hope and redemption. Basic relatable human emotions. And identifiable characters made credible by perfect casting.

Like Ayesha Takia — a natural-born performer. And even former model Gul Panag whose awkwardness and stiffness actually seems apt for her role! Shreyas Iqbal Talpade does an endearing cameo as an impersonator bahurupiya who keeps changing costumes and mimicking old filmy heroes. And it’s also great to see on screen again histrionic veterans like Girish Karnad as despotic Rajput patriarch. And Uttara Baokar as bitter old grandmother.

Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is excellent. He composes and constructs stylised but simple images which don’t scream for attention, but unassumingly add up to create the film’s striking overall visual design.

Mandira Mitra