Dekh Tamasha Dekh: A Political Satire On Religious Bigotry

Movie: Dekh Tamasha Dekh

Director: Feroz Abbas Khan

Cast: Satish Kaushik, Tanvi Azmi,

Rating: ****

In the opening scene of Feroz Abbas Khan’s “Dekh Tamasha Dekh”, a police constable is suspended from work by his superior for being careless with Elizabeth, a police dog. Through this scene Feroz throws the spotlights on things police pay attention to in this small coastal town, which is highly prone to cultural feuds as it’s populated with equal percentage of Hindus and Muslims. What happens to such a place when two communities fight over the ownership of a dead body that has Muslim as well as Hindu roots? Should the body be buried or cremated? Inspired from true events, this story of communal feud sparked off for political reasons leaves a lasting effect on the viewer who is not only entertained but confronted with religious bigotry that we easily sweep under the carpet.

A large cut-out of a local politician falls and kills a poor man (Hamid), who comes underneath it. Hamid would have had a simple funeral by his Muslim brothers if the Hindus hadn’t interfered and demanded his body because he was a Hindu named Kishan, before he married a Muslim woman called Fatima and subsequently converted to Islam. The fight over the ownership of the body eventually leads to chaos, riots and the involvement of police and media as well. What was supposed to be a low key funeral suddenly turns into headlines of a local newspaper, urging the filmmaker to underline the absurdity of politics and religion in our country.

There’s a misconception that comedy is probably the most convenient genre to address even the most controversial subject without offending a soul. But that’s untrue because if you don’t have the knack to know what to portray and what not in the name of comedy, you’re likely to earn the wrath of the public. Director Feroz is an exception in this case as he intelligently uses his jokes to evoke laughter and simultaneously makes us ponder over the subject at hand. One of the best examples could be the courtroom scene that’s presented so funnily, but it entertains and raises logical questions that are left to us to be figured out.

Besides focusing only on cultural clashes, Feroz also throws the spotlight on several issues such as inter-community love story, herd mentality and the responsibility of choosing a capable leader. It was the leaders of the two communities who provoked the two communities to lock horns over a dead body and when you see the same leaders laughing and exchanging pleasantries in the last scene, you know for a fact that we have to be blamed for choosing such corrupts leaders. The film is a slap in the face of Indian culture of guardianship and it questions our blind faith in our incapable leaders.

The film never attempts to take sides or point all fingers in one direction. It, however, holds every member of the society accountable for what had happened with Hamid aka Kishan. From the policeman who stays put for a while for fear of being accused of bias, to the old man who takes off his hearing aid to find peace and the editor who cashes in on a rumour to increase his newspaper’s circulation, each one is to blame.

An ensemble cast of brilliant actors with their natural acting elevate the film to greater heights and make it appear realistic. After “Lakshmi”, Satish Kaushik leaves a mark with his role of a local politician. He is strongly backed by fitting performances by Tanvi Azmi, Apoorva Arora and other supporting actors.

“Dekh Tamasha Dekh” is a resonating political satire on religious bigotry and incapable leaders who are bestowed with the responsibility of serving us.

This review was originally written here