Producer: Pooja Bhatt
Director: Tanuja Chandra
*ing: Sanjay Dutt, Kajol, Ashutosh Rana, Tanvi Azmi, & Jas Arora
Music: Uttam Singh

Released on : May 29, 1998

Reviewed by: Mukul Deshpande

out of 

Dushman ... a girl is raped and murdered by the villain and someone takes revenge. Usually that "someone" is the girl’s brother, but since this is a Pooja Bhatt film, this time the avenger is the victim’s sister. And the two sisters happen to be twins with contrasting personalities. So what’s the big deal? Dushman is just going to be another film with lot of gush and gore but very few chills and thrills. These were my thoughts while I made myself comfy in a seat at the local cinema-hall.

And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After being treated to an overdose of mush and violence, the Hindi film audience has finally got what it deserves: a film that keeps one engrossed until the closing credits roll.

Brilliant performances all around. Kajol is bang-up ... isn’t she always? Be it the confused lass in Sapnay, or the villainous girl in Gupt, or the conventional heroine in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge ... Kajol plays each character with ease. She seems to slip into the two roles - the crop-haired Sonia and the long-haired Naina - without putting any extra effort. And no, she doesn’t have to overact to create two different identities for the twins (attention Shah Rukh Khan!).

It’s not often a producer employs an actor to rope in the audiences. But Pooja Bhatt, a smart producer she is, has done just that. She knows that even two Kajols cannot carry a film to box-office success. So she uses Sanjay Dutt to provide the mandatory glamour in Dushman. Sanjay has no problems playing the role of a blind ex-armyman. As for Jas Arora, what this bloke needs is a good role. He does have a good screen presence, maybe because of that wide-angled smile of his.

The real hero of Dushman is the villain. Ashutosh Rana gives an award-winning performance as the merciless serial killer (very unlike the stereotype villain). He really makes the audience detest him. And that’s what acting is all about, right? Convincing the audience that you’re really the character you portray. Ten out of ten to this debutant.

The flaws? Well, there are times when director Tanuja Chandra does succumb to the pressures of commercial obligations, like having a clichéd ending à la Mahesh Bhatt. While one is on the edge of the seat for most of the first half, one tends to relax a bit through the second half.

But then I could fit all the cons in two sentences. Which is commendable stuff for Tanuja Chandra, who wields the megaphone for the first time. This young lady is a welcome addition to an industry where there is a dearth of capable directors.

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