#Damini #Nirbhaya #RememberNirbhaya
After the fateful and disgraceful incident of 16th Dec, 2012, the true identity of Jyoti Singh Pandey was kept hidden but the media, in her honor, gave her many other names, one of which was Damini. Why?
The answer lays in another date, 30th April, 1993, almost 20 years before this incident. It was the date when a movie called ‘Damini’ was released. Damini, a landmark cinema all the way, was a story of a woman’s fight to bring justice to a rape victim. Scriptors, in the solemn remembrance of Jyoti, have chosen Damini as the apt choice for today as one of the best Hindi films.
One of the most memorable part of the film was its beginning, where the protagonist, Damini, is ‘caged’ in an asylum. The flashback reveals the background, which establishes Damini as a sweet, simple, but fiercely up-front girl who doesn’t compromise on honesty for anything – the trait that makes rich Shekhar fall in love with her. Shekhar is a genuine guy, but his money & power hungry family is not so much. Damini, with the exception of Shekhar, finds herself alone, but finds a friend in the housemaid, Urmi. On the occasion of Holi, while the entire household is busy celebrating, Damini inadvertently witnesses Urmi’s gang rape by Shekhar’s younger brother and his friends. Urmi, who has sustained tremendous internal injuries, doesn’t survive the incident, thereby igniting the wildfire of grief and anger in Damini. The rest story is about how Damini ‘singlehandedly’ tries to bring justice to Urmi, faces ‘active’ resistance and suppression from her own family, feels morally weakened seeing her own husband is caught between the fight of righteousness and blind family values, and how a stranger, with his own unfortunate past, proves to be a strong support in her fight.
Every nuance of the film, as it appears today, was as if a prediction of this unfortunate incident that occurred exactly three years ago. It must mean that the sensibilities (and even insensibilities) existed then. They have just taken the sickening corporeal form today. To imagine that one needs flair and a deep knowledge of the angels and demons within us. This is exactly what Sutanu Gupta and Rajkumar Santoshi did when they wrote this screenplay. Rajkumar Santoshi is definitely one of the best directors for social drama and Damini can be called the highlight of his artistic genius. How else would he be able to show how we (the society) are sensitive toward the rape cases and victims and at the same time parade our inexcusable insensitivity toward women and those who fight for the justice? That’s pure acumen!
The talk about Damini won’t be complete without the two iconic performances – Meenakshi Seshadri and Sunny Deol. Meenakshi, toward the end of her career, delivered this power-packed performance where she portrayed both, a naïvely honest and gentle lover/wife as well as the woman whose innocence is crushed by the evil society and who turns into a fierce fighter and won’t stop until the justice is done. The best part of her performance was that she made us feel what her character was feeling.
Sunny Deol, despite not being the protagonist and entering on the screen sometime in the second half, still was definitely the show stealer. The alcoholic, brooding, grief-stricken criminal lawyer, who was temporarily crushed by the unfortunate events in his personal life, rises up with blazing fire of revenge and pure sense of rectitude when Damini reignites the fire within him. Sunny Deol’s intense portrayal of Govind was further (and massively) heightened by the dialogues that were written with the pure intention of sending the audience into passion-frenzy. Many of his dialogues are still considered iconic and are remembered vividly. The character of Govind doesn’t only prove that one doesn’t need ‘longer screen-time’ for his character to be effective, but 20 years later proved to be the exemplification of the entire India that rose up in fury in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident.
The movie is important because every character in the film was very well-defined and had an edge. Every character instigated some or the other feeling inside us.
Damini is a movie that moves you and disturbs you every time you watch it. Every time it compels you to answer the questions it raised and in the process creates ‘intolerance’ in your mind against injustice and unfairness. We cannot ask more from a film.
- Yeh dhai kilo haath jab kisi pe padta hai to aadmi uthta nahi, uth jata hai.
- Tarikh pe tarikh, tarikh pe tarikh, tarikh pe tarikh! Bass tarikh milti rahi hai lekin insaf nahi mila, my lord! Mili hai to bass… Tarikh!
Awards and Nominations
- National Film Award (Best Supporting Actor) – Sunny Deol (Winner)
- Filmfare Award (Best Supporting Actor) – Sunny Deol (Winner)
- Filmfare Award (Best Actress) – Meenakshi Seshadri (Nominated)
- Filmfare Award (Best Director) – Rajkumar Santoshi (Winner)