September 17, 2007

Ek doctor ki maut (1991)

I recently watched Tapan Sinha's 1991 film Ek doctor ki maut. It's a film about a maverick scientist who devises a vaccine for leprosy, but is met with some resistance from the scientific establishment when he publicizes his results.

You can read my review of it here at Filmi Geek; I was a little disappointed with it, but that's all in the review and I won't belabor it here. Other than my own comments, most of the opinions I've heard of the film are very favorable, so if you like, you can head on over to Jaman and watch it for yourself.

Shabana Azmi plays the scientist's wife. In the beginning of the film, the scientist treats her very poorly; he is obsessed with his work and seems to regard her more as a servant than a companion, heaping abuses on her and making petulant demands. She debates leaving him, but decides to stay because, as she puts it, "I can't get over my love for you, even though I've tried." Later her patience is rewarded as, in the film's best-handled arc, he comes to realize how much he relies on her and needs her.

Shabana ji's performance could have been as good as ever, except that it was burdened by an excessive script that just had her talking too much. Tapan Sinha had India's subtlest and most expressive actor at his disposal, but instead of letting her use that subtlety, he stifled her with exposition; she narrates her emotions for her husband - and for the audience - and it interferes with her ability to just be real and convey the emotions by feeling them.

Still, she gives an excellent performance within the limitations of the script, and the film isn't awful. Most people who care about Shabana Azmi enough to read this website would probably find it worth the time, though there are many movies of hers I would recommend before this one - one contemporaneous film that I like much better, and in which she plays a not entirely dissimilar role, is Dharavi, also available from Jaman.

In Ek doctor ki maut, Shabana ji looks absolutely wonderful, which is not without value when the film waxes a little ponderous. Here are some more gratuitous screen captures to go with the one at the top of this post, which makes me go particularly goo-headed.

(PS: Does everyone know what tomorrow is? Stay tuned for something that I hope will be a little special in honor of the day.)

1 comment:

ra said...

hi there..thnx for this wondeful post..

u know..ive beeen a great fan of pankaj kapur and shabana aazmi..i've heard a lot abt this movie but never got the chance to watch it...

i checked for torrents on the net and video libraries too..but it's no where i guess..can u plz provide me the source / torrent if u have for this that i can watch this missed out classic..thnx a ton..

btw, u dint mention anything abt the director tapan sinha, he died recently, and u know what this movie's won national film award in 1991 and national screenplay award in 1992...