Film: Phir Ussi Mod Par
Cast: Kanwaljeet, Parmeet Sethi, Kanika Bajpai, Bharat Kapoor, Jividha Ashtha, Govind Namdeo, Sheeba Khan, Vineeta Malik, Smita Jaykar, Rajeev Verma, Arun Bali, Haider Ali, Sanjay Batra, Diveeya Dwivedi, S M Zaheer
Director: Lekh Tandon
Rating: * *
Lekh (Amrapali) Tandon’s last hurrah, this film took a while to get the required support to see the light of cinema screen, after his sad demise. Produced by Trinetra Bajpai, the Industrialist nephew of former Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee, this film attempts to give perspective to the Triple Talaq debate which was recently put to rest by the Supreme Court judgement requesting Parliament to pass a law abolishing the practice in all forms.
Considering the background of this production, it’s clear that the attempts to build a vote-base amongst disadvantaged Muslim women is gaining steam and this is but one salvo in that direction.
The story revolves around a Muslim woman Naaz (Jividha Astha) who is cruelly abandoned and divorced by her advocate husband Shahid (Parmeet Sethi) when she questions him about his intention to marry for the second time. Luckily for her, she gets rescued by Rasheed (Kanwaljit Singh) a terminally ill diary owner who gives her his name and provides the desired legitimacy for her unborn child. But things come to a head when that son ends up following in his father’s footsteps, meting out a similar unjust treatment to his own wife. So Naaz decides to fight it out in court on her daughter-in-law’s behalf.
The narrative plays out in a protracted fashion allowing for two generations of lovers to express their emotions through unwarranted song (though fairly lilting) and dance before coming to the point of universal discord. In fact, the courtroom scenes appear to be last minute additions as the SC judgement pre-empted the film’s release and the filmmakers had no option but to change the ending to make it more topical and relevant. Newcomer Jividha is confident and earnest, while Kanwaljit and Parmeet, relegated to fringe playing in mainstream cinema, essay their full-length roles with masterful understatement. The drama though seems antiquated and the facile treatment doesn’t allow for any great involvement or empathy. The film falls into the category of Muslim socials that went out of fashion in the late 80’s. And it’s not even a particularly accomplished effort at that!