Producer : Pooja Bhatt
Director : Mahesh Bhatt
*ing: Ajay Devgun, Pooja Bhatt, Sonali Bendre, Kunaal Khemu,
Ashutosh Rana, Akshay
Anand, and Sonali Bendre
Music: M.M. Kreem
Released on : December 25, 1998
Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
"Saraansh". "Sadak". "Kaash".
"Arth". Add "Zakhm"
to that list. Mahesh Bhatt's much-touted
last directorial undertaking is worth all of the hullabaloo and then some. This is
the perfect swan song for the director who - for the most part - has proven himself to be
far too intelligent for Bollywood's liking. "Zakhm",
Bhatt's ode to his late mother, is a film from the heart, and his conviction and
brilliance shine through each frame of this cinematic masterpiece.
The film opens in a riot-infested Mumbai with an argument between the music director Ajay
(Ajay Devgan) and his wife (Sonali Bendre) over whether to give birth to their
child in a foreign country or in India, where people are killing each other in the name of
religion. Ajay soon learns that his mother (Pooja
Bhatt) has been burned by a group of Muslim rioters while leaving a church
and is in critical condition. Via flashback, we see the struggles his mother had to
undergo in order to raise her children. She was in love with a Hindu film producer (Nagarjuna) but was not allowed to marry him on
account of her Muslim faith. The fact that she had children with a Hindu man forced
her to hide her faith and live her life as a Hindu. After his father's death, Ajay's
mother made Ajay promise to bury her in the Muslim faith when she dies, for it is only
through a proper burial that she will be able to find herself reunited with her lover in
heaven. Ajay's mother succumbs to the burns, however the impedance in Ajay's task
comes in the form of the fundamentalist Hindu leader Subodhbhai (Ashutosh
Rana in a role akin to a real life figure of today's times) and his
disciple Anand (Akshay Anand), who happens
to be Ajay's own brother.
characteristically draws hard-hitting performances from the entire cast. Ajay Devgan's intensity is at home in the central
role of the protagonist who is fed up with religious warfare. Ashutosh
Rana, Akshay Anand, and Sonali Bendre each manage to make an impact.
However, it is the child actor - Kunaal Khemu,
who gives a mature performance as Ajay's younger self, and Pooja
Bhatt, cast against "type" in an unconventional role, who most
brilliantly compliment the film with their honest, heartfelt acting.
The film is grippingly directed by Mahesh
Bhatt with a powerful screenplay by Bhatt
himself and Tanuja Chandra. This isn't
a film that preaches by any means. There are no senselessly violent scenes added in
for shock value. There are no long speeches to enforce messages upon the viewer.
Even most of M.M. Kreem's melodious
score is used only as background music. Rather - the characters and story are
presented in a clear and concise manner - leaving the audience to ponder over the issues
of secularism it raises.
"Zakhm" has been
fighting controversy after controversy since its conception, and it is a blessing on the
viewer that such a film has valiantly braved each storm in order to come forth onto the
big screen. This is a film that not only will make you feel - it will make you
think. Be prepared.