Two women, one in the snowy hills of Himachal, the other in the arid Rajasthani desert come together connected by a common thread of loss and forgiveness in Nagesh Kukunoor's captivating journey, "Dor". Though Kukunoor borrows his plot (legitimately) from the Malayalam film "Perumazhakkalam", he creates a far more cinematically enthralling experience through elegant writing and imaginative characterization. Though "Dor" has its share of flaws, Kukunoor once again reinforces himself as one of India's better storytellers.
A simple story about a woman seeking forgiveness to save her husband's life, "Dor" projects its characters as complex individuals. Kukunoor adorns his protagonists with multidimensional qualities, a trait that "Perumazhakkalam" sorely missed. Potentially melodramatic situations are enthused with subtle performances by a talented cast. Aptly cast, Ayesha Takia and Gul Panag share wonderful chemistry, effortlessly developing the growth of each other's characters as they interact. In another diversion from his source material, Kukunoor introduces 'behroopiya', played by the exceptional Shreyas Talpade ("Iqbal"), a character integral in bringing the two women together. Infusing the narrative's second act with humor, Talpade steals the show with his comic timing, particularly as he impersonates numerous Hindi film actors. The supporting cast too impress, with the exception of Kukunoor himself who makes a relatively amateurish appearance as a lecherous businessman.
The snowy hills of Himachal juxtaposed with Rajasthan's colorful landscape are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee. On the flip side, one wishes Kukunoor was more innovative with his shots while directing one-on-one dialog, instead of routinely cutting back-and-forth between talking heads. Yet, the narrative is well paced, effectively blending Salim-Sulaiman's authentic music and score.
With an engaging screenplay embellished with cinematic liberties, "Dor" ranks among some of the year's better films. Nagesh Kukunoor once again creates a film that is flawed, but at the same time, emotionally stimulating and universally accessible.