If there is one modern film which signifies the importance of truth it has to be Damini (1993). Though the movie is more remembered for the dialogues of Sunny Deol and his confrontational scenes with Amrish Puri, I feel the movie should also be appreciated for a tight bound script, the wonderfully directed courtroom scenes, good background music as well as a career best performance from Meenakshi.
The first half of the movie sets the scene and moves in flashback format with Damini (Meenakshi) in a mental asylum getting shocks and remembering her dance performance with a fresh looking Aamir Khan in a guest appearance. Shekhar (Rishi Kapoor), the son of a wealthy Mr. Gupta (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) who happens to be in the small hill-station town and watching the performance, is smitten by the beauty and dance of Damini, and falls head over heels in love with her. When he gets to meet her, he decides that he is going to marry her, and no one else. Shekhar brings his dad to meet Damini and her post-master dad, Chandrakant (Anjan Shrivastava). Mr. Gupta is charmed by the simple beauty and outright honesty of Damini, and they finalize Shekhar's and Damini's marriage, which is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony.
Damini re-locates to Shekhar's palatial home, where she finds that she is not as welcome as she had thought she would be, for Shekhar's mom, Sumitra (Rohini Hattangadi), had wanted her son to marry the daughter of wealthy Mr. Bajaj (Paresh Rawal). Then one day, Damini witnesses Shekhar's younger brother, Rakesh, molesting the maid-servant, Urmi and rushes to inform Shekhar about this. Shekhar rushes over to prevent the sexual assault from taking place, but is too late. Thus Rakesh and three of his friends are able to abscond with the body of the servant, who had fainted. Then the Gupta family conspire to cover-up this shameful incident. But Damini is unable to get this incident out of her mind, and finally decides to inform the police. She does so and is instantly shunned by the Gupta family who has her to leave the house. The police arrest Rakesh and three of his friends and the matter is taken up in court where Damini is asked to testify. Enter Amrish Puri as the corrupt lawyer Inderjeet Chadha. Damini is portrayed by the Gupta family's lawyer, Chhadha, as a mentally unstable person, with everyone from the Gupta family to her very own dad testifying to that effect. Damini is confined in an mental institution for two weeks by a judicial order. Flashback ends and Damini recovers her mental stability after seeing a Durga mata procession passing.
Unable to bear the mental torture in the institution, she escapes and runs into a down-and-out alcoholic lawyer by the name of Govind (Sunny Deol), who has the rape case re-opened. Then the maid-servant dies in hospital and the police write her death off as a suicide but Govind is able to prove otherwise. As for the final test of Damini's sanity, the only person who can restore her rightful place is Shekhar. But will Shekhar be able to stand up against his own family, and testify in favor of Damini and send his younger brother to prison? The audience have to watch the movie for its excellent second half.
Sunny Deol won a best supporting actor Filmfare award for this movie as also the National award for best supporting actor. Santoshi also won the Filmfare award for Best Director and Meenakshi and Amrish got the nominations in their categories as well. The supporting star cast of Tinnu Anand, Sulbha Arya, Rohini Hattangadi and Kulbhushan Kharbanda do their parts well.
Rishi Kapoor, however a wonderful actor he is, gets overshadowed in the court scenes by Sunny Deol who has a author backed role as well as all the jaw dropping dialogues, but overall his portrayal of Shekhar is good especially in the first half of the movie. Watch out for the picturization of the song “Jab se tumko dekha hai” or the scene where he goes to bring back Damini from her sister’s house. For Meenakshi’s performance watch out for her dialogues in the climax when she questions the audience and tries to awaken their conscience and you feel how much someone like Katrina Kaif lacks in dialogue delivery in the climax in Raajneeti. Paresh Rawal is wasted in his role and does not have much dialogues, Vijayendra as the corrupt policeman and Anjan Shrivastava as the doting father act well.
There are just three songs in the movie and all of them appear in the first half. The combination of Kumar Sanu, Nadeem Shravan and Sameer was at its peak during those days and the songs became hit and blend well with the storyline.
Here is a trivia, as Rajkumar Santoshi was also shooting Andaz Apna Apna at the same time, he approached Aamir Khan to do a guest dance appearance in this movie even though Aamir is much younger than Meenakshi. Aamir readily consented.