As bad as it gets
A Hindu boy and a Muslim girl. They are in love, which leads to a riot. The political and religious leaders have a field day. And yes, the city is Bombay.
This is not Mani Rathnam's Bombay -- in fact, all comparisons to that film are hideous. This is a pathetic film called Dahek. Prince (Akshaye Khanna) and Nilima (Sonali Bendre) are the principal characters in this film. They bump into each other in the first frame of the film and the same goes on for the next few scenes, for about 10 minutes. Finally, they fall in love. This is followed by three songs, two of which are pretty hummable (music by Aadesh Srivastava.)
Enter Nilima's uncle, Jabbar (Danny Dengzonpa), straight out of prison. There's no doubt he's an orthodox Muslim: he had gone to jail because he had killed his sister and her husband, who dared to elope. He is still as ferocious as ever, he will do anything for his community, his morals and Islam.
The rest of the film is a royal mess. Melodrama and mayhem rule. Boy and girl are prevented from meeting each other, girl is all set to get married off to a 'Mussalman,' boy intervenes and is thrashed to bits, his father Roshanlal (Dalip Tahil) swears revenge...it is as bad as it gets.
Once again, in this film, the media has been portrayed as irresponsible. 'Hindu boy runs away with Muslim girl' -- scream the headlines. The politicians, religious leaders and Uncle Jabbar want blood. The fight is now between -- believe it or not -- two newspapers which go by the names of Aaj Ka Hindu and Hamare Kaum Ke Suraksha!
By this time, you are ready to walk out of the theatre, leaving this disastrous film about a doomed couple behind.
For Akshaye Khanna fans, this is a chance to see his chiseled face as it was five years ago. Sonali Bendre does an okay job. One pities Danny though, who must have suffered from a severe headache and bad throat, what with his constant frowning and barking.
Writer-director Lateef Binny doesn't succeed in doing anything. He can't tell a story like Mani Rathnam did in Bombay or even Mahesh Bhatt did in Zakhm. The camerawork is good in parts, the flashback depicting Uncle Jabbar killing Sabina (his sister) and her husband being the most decent. The screenplay and the long-drawn dialogues, however, pull the film down to mundane depths.
The inefficiency and lack of confidence on the part of producer Milan Jhaveri is proved by the fact that the print for the film arrived at the theatre an hour late, keeping a handful of the audience waiting.
Dahek, a film that was five years in the making, doesn't even have a new bottle to market the same old tepid tap water.