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Nagesh Kukunoor's Dor
'Dor', a poignant tale of
By Subhash K. Jha,
* * * * 1/2
Film: "Dor"; Starring: Gul
Panag, Ayesha Takia, Shreyas Talpade; Director: Nagesh Kukunoor;
How far would you go for love? That's the question the narrative
of "Dor" softly raises.
How far would you go to see this film? That's the question every
movie-enthusiast should ask loudly.
Very frankly, "Dor" takes you by complete surprise. Of course
you expect a certain aesthetic and technical finesse in a Nagesh
Kukunoor creation. But nothing he has done so far - neither the
under-rated "Teen Deewarein" nor the hugely-feted "Iqbal" -
prepares us for the luminous spiritual depths and the
exhilarating emotional heights of "Dor".
The stunningly original screenplay sweeps in a caressing arc,
over the separate yet bonded lives of two women - Zeenat (Gul
Panag) in the snowscapes of Himachal Pradesh and Meera (Ayesha
Takia) in the parched deserts of Rajasthan.
The picaresque pilgrimage of one woman into the life of another
is charted in the resplendent rhythms of a rather zingy symphony
played at an octave that's at once subdued and persuasive.
"Dor" could any time lapse into being one of those tedious works
on women's emancipation. Kukunoor controls the emotional tide
with hands that know when to exercise restrain and when to let
"Dor" flies high and effortlessly in an azure sky, creating
elating dips and curves in the skyline without ever letting go
of the thematic thrusts that take the director as far into the
realm of realism as cinematically possible. He never loses out
on that wonderful quality of cinematic splendour that separates
poetry from sermons.
Join Zeenat then on her bizarre impossible quest to find a young
newly widowed woman whom Zeenat has never seen, met or even
heard of until her husband's sudden tryst with crisis.
The way Kukunoor weaves the two unconnected lives in contrasting
hinterlands is not short of magical.
The eye for detail is so keen that you tend to stare not at the
screen, but at feelings and emotions that aren't visible. Sudeep
Chatterjee, Munish Sappal, Sanjeev Dutta and Salim-Suleiman have
done a marvellous job through their cinematography, art
direction, editing and music.
From the initial scenes of tender bonding between the two women
and their respective spouses, to the indelible sisterhood
between the two bereaved women that constitutes the end-notes of
this sublime celluloid symphony...Kukunoor's world of wistful
peregrinations is as fragile as it's powerful.
The quality of fire-and-ice provides a subliminal text to the
narrative's inner world where ideologies and 'isms' fade, only
pain, hurt and betrayal remains.
There are moments of unbearable poignancy in the film. The
sequence where the child-woman, who is transformed to a wan
widow from a bright bride in months, opens her dead husband's
suitcase is remarkable and creates a disturbing sense of spatial
The frailty of the widowed girl is weighed against the huge
expanse of the crumbling room containing that one tiny accusing
blue suitcase that symbolises her shattered world.
Scenes of female bonding between Ayesha Takia and her dead
husband's grandmother (Uttara Baovkar) convey a familiar yet
But it's the Takia-Panag sisterhood that sustains the narrative.
Both the actresses are huge revelations, with Takia winning more
sympathy votes for the sheer poignancy of her character's
predicament. Scenes such as the one where she falls unconscious
while hearing the news of her husband's death over the only cell
phone in the village, or the one where she furtively dances to
"You're my sonia" stay etched beyond the frames.
However, one wishes that Kukunoor hadn't introduced Shreyas
Talpade's character. He adds nothing to the central theme of
female bonding. In fact Talpade's drunken confessions of love to
Panag in the wilderness, and Kukunoor's obtrusive appearance as
an engineer who has designs over Takia, are somewhat
It's not as if such things don't happen in real life. It's just
that these situations don't belong to a world that Kukunoor has
built out of the finest threads of human compassion and empathy.
Is "Dor" one of the most poignant films in recent times? Most
probably it is. When it comes to portraying a forlorn yet
undefeated sisterhood it stands tall and stately right up there
with Deepa Mehta's "Water".