Flashback Friday: Revisiting Damini A Pathbreaking Feminist Film That Owns Its Cult Status

Why Damini is that this week’s decide

    Manoj Bajpayee’s Bandaa, that launched this week, began a dialogue about Bollywood courtroom dramas, significantly these that concentrate on ladies. Damini is one such film you’ll be able to’t skip when speaking concerning the subgenre.


New Delhi: ‘Damini’, a feminist cult favorite amongst Bollywood motion pictures, is a movie that nobody from the ’90s period might probably overlook. You have to be acquainted with Sunny Deol’s well-known dialogues, ‘tarikh pe tarik’ and ‘yeh dhai kilo ka haath…,’ owing to memes, even if you’re unfamiliar with the interval when Hindi cinema got here up with a number of worthy movies amidst the redundant ones. These are from the aforementioned Meenakshi Seshadri-starring movie, which not solely garnered rave critiques but additionally rose to grow to be the sixth highest-grossing film of 1993. Though the film deserves higher credit score for its boldness than for together with Deol’s declare to fame dialogue, it was sadly launched at a time when its principal promoting level—a risque try at a women-centric film—was hardly acknowledged. 

The final ten years have seen a glut of feminist movies, a few of which even overuse the topic whereas nonetheless providing some critically questionable themes. Nevertheless, there have been ground-breaking movies like ‘Ankur’, ‘Kamla Ki Maut’, or ‘Astitva’ that shattered societal taboos and sensitively addressed problems with society earlier than the sub-genre of cinema was even recognized to a wider viewers. Talking of Damini, there have been simply two heroes within the film—we’re not referring to Rishi Kapoor and Sunny Deol—Meenakshi and the tight sure screenplay, which was written by Rajkumar Santoshi and Sutanu Gupta. 

The film’s title, which accurately interprets to ‘lightning’, is a becoming depiction of how the principle protagonist goes on to confront society’s hypocrisy all through the course of the narrative. The film opens with a guy-meets-girl story, sticking to the tropes of the then-common norm in cinema. At first sight, Damini, a younger lady from a humble household, captures the eye of Shekhar Gupta (Rishi Kapoor), the son of a strong businessman. However not like the standard love pursuits in such movies, she is proven to the viewers as a girl with distinctive ideas and morals.

Along with her honesty, she wins over each her soon-to-be partner and her in-laws. And all the things is ideal till the identical trait seems to be the best risk to them. She witnesses the home assist, Urmi, being gang-raped by her brother-in-law and his buddies, and she or he makes the arduous option to battle in opposition to all the chances to deliver the oppressed lady justice. Simply earlier than the incident happens, Damini clearly tells them to cease making an attempt to forcefully apply color to Urmi when she clearly appears uncomfortable. A refined however pivotal trace concerning the value of consent, hardly ever seen in outdated movies.

Damini’s resolution exposes her to the hypocrisy of individuals, particularly these with cash and affect, who select to commerce the lifetime of an harmless lady for a member of the family, regardless of being conscious of his hideous crime. The household conceals what occurred by saying that Urmi wasn’t at work on the day of the rape, and Shekhar pushes Damini to lie. When she sees the true faces of these determined to uphold their standing in society, a prolonged warfare begins that she is oblivious to. Though the movie depends extensively on melodramatic sequences and has no solution to keep away from clichéd dialogue, what’s noteworthy is its try and spell out bias.

Damini is ceaselessly seen difficult cultural norms that cut back ladies’s worth to nothing. She confronts her partner in a scene and asks him methods to wipe out her personal conscience so it will not hassle her with the reality. The storyline shifts within the second half of the film, because the protagonist is pushed to the brink of breaking. Damini is deemed mentally unfit following a distressing questioning held in court docket by the defendant’s lawyer, Indrajith Chadha (Amrish Puri). The whole courtroom scene, which undoubtedly contains a yelling lawyer and a sobbing witness, is nonetheless transferring.

Bollywood usually focuses on the male character via a saviour narrative whereas bringing out the tales of the ladies. Living proof: Govind, the alcoholic lawyer performed by Sunny Deol within the film ‘Damini’, steps in to avoid wasting the day. Though Sunny Deol gained a Filmfare and a Nationwide Movie Award for Greatest Supporting Actor for his efficiency within the film, we’ll reserve our admiration for him for one more day. 

Meenakshi’s efficiency, which is extremely emotional and now and again offers you goosebumps, will take centre stage at present. The remedy of the feminine lead is among the many ways in which the film is ground-breaking. Even with an ensemble forged, the actor is given a shot to face out and ship considered one of her best performances. Meenakshi attracts in viewers from the extraordinary starting scene through which she is frantically searching for refuge throughout a constructing’s hallways to the ultimate scene through which she delivers a compelling monologue and lets go of all her disgrace to reveal the reality. 

‘Damini’, a movie that falls below the feminist cinema style, might look dated compared to the extra nuanced movies Bollywood has to supply these days, like ‘Pink’ or ‘Raazi’. One should watch the film whereas making an allowance for that it got down to sort out a topic that was distinctive for the silver display screen on the time when rape merely served as a catalyst for the male protagonist to show right into a messiah. And did not fail us. 

ALSO READ: Flashback Friday | Manichitrathazhu: Mohanlal-Shobana Masterpiece That Withstood The Test of Time

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