Poor Hamid’s religion becomes important after his death. He dies when the cut out of a corrupt politician falls on him. Opportunists discover that once upon a time he was Kishen and with many sheep available to make it an issue, his death spirals a riot in a sleepy town of coastal Maharasthra.
Welcome to the unapologetic satire of Feroz Abbas Khan. It shows a mirror to the socio-political reality that we endure and scythes through the hypocrisy of politicians, media and self-seeking religious leaders.
The comic undercurrent is sharp but not diversionary as Khan makes you feel the tragedy beneath the comedy. His gaze is incisive. When the mourning ladies pack up from Hamid’s home the moment the water supply opens, it reflects the double standards we cope with. In between the religious conflict, Khan smartly brings in the caste angle and underlines how the young urban India is unaware of the multiple realties that co-exist in our society. So when the young and well-meaning police officer sells the village as postcard destination to his daughter, the irony hits us hard. When the editor of the local paper discovers that he will no longer decide what the public will read as it is the marketing guy who will sell the news, the bastardisation of values is hard to ignore. The ideologue’s ideas remain only in the controversial books. When his colleague dies at his doorstep, he is literally not listening. The politician has a cap for every occasion and the religious leaders of both the saffron and green hues spew venom so that they remain relevant. The haplessness of the judiciary is cleverly spelt out. In between there is a love story brewing between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl where the two address themselves as parties.
Khan is not generating heroes where there is none. In office, the Muslim journalist is told to do sher-o-shayari when he writes on Tamasha. When he questions, the hate speech of Maulana, he is called an outsider who doesn’t understand Islam, somebody who doesn’t live in ghettos. Through Riaz, Khan captures the dilemmas of the liberal Muslim, a rarity in the public discourse.
Imaginatively shot, Khan doesn’t pull any punches nor does he tone down the sarcasm but in an attempt to balance out things some of the scenes get unduly lengthy. In Satish Kaushik, Sudhir Pandey, Tanvi Azmi and Vinay Jain he has the actors to deliver the punch but at times theatrics creep into the performances as you get an impression that the script was first written for the stage. It could have been avoided with scissors to keep indulgence and anger in check.
Still it is a potent document of the times we live in and should not be missed.
DEKH TAMASHA DEKH
Cast: Vinay Jain, Satish Kaushik, Tanvi Azmi, Sudhir Pandey
Plot : When Hamid dies in an accident, his religious identity comes under cloud leading to a riot.
Bottomline: Slightly overwrought in tone but a compelling take on Indian polity that leaves you in disquiet.