Man rapes wife. Wife runs away. Man finds wife. Wife kills man. Moral of the
story: if you are a victim of marital rape, run away, or better still, kill
your husband. All other roads lead to zilch.
Produced by the Ministry For Health And Family Welfare, directed by Kalpana
Lajmi and featuring a national award-winning performance by Raveena Tandon,
Daman was a much-awaited movie in some circles, and a curiosity in many. But
a mediocre social drama with careless direction and zero entertainment value
is what you get. So here's another moral of this story: when you walk into a
theater, leave your expectations behind.
Durga (Raveena Tandon), a poor village girl, is married off to Sanjoy (Shivaji
Shinde), the son of a reasonably wealthy family. Sanjoy, a cruel, crude and
promiscuous man, mistreats her, constantly degrades her and rapes her. Angry,
afraid and hurt, Durga turns to her brother-in-law Sunil (Sanjay Suri) for support
and sympathy. Love blossoms in the unlikeliest of relationships, but both are
held back by social constraints.
Years go by without Durga's wrath, but things threaten his world when Sanjoy
threatens to marry their 12-year old daughter Deepa to a middle-aged alcoholic.
Then one night in a drunken stupor he kills Sunil, and Durga decides that's
it. She runs. And lands up in Guwahati, in the shelter of a kind woman with
no children of her own. But Sanjoy finds them, and pays for it.
None of the characters is credible, least of all Sanjoy, who seems mentally
ill at times, downright cruel at others. We get no background, no orientation
on any of people involved, and no explanations are given about why things are
the way they are. Sanjoy's dysfunctional family has no real characterization
and is just an excuse for a background. Durga seems to have popped up out of
And if that were not enough, there's a police inspector mouthing women's lib
dialogues, as if, somewhere along the line, Lajmi suddenly felt guilty about
not having enough messages for women.
Raveena Tandon lives her role, and does so with dignity. But an Oscar-winning
performance it is not. Both Shaan and Raima Sen make utter fools of themselves,
and you are left wondering if the director was on vacation during their stint.
The music too is a disappointment. The haunting song Gum Sum Gum Sum
by Bhupen Hazarika is a beautiful number, and Hey Ram Ram is okay, but
none of the other songs deserves mention. Don't expect anything in the class
Whatever happened to entertainment, and whoever said social dramas need not
be entertaining? To make things worse, Lajmi gives us a juvenile song between
Shaan and Raima. Puleeze! There are no nice or warm moments in the movie, nothing
that's even mildly pleasing.
It's a shame that Daman turned out the way it did. What could have been an important
and interesting movie puts up a disappointing show. Consumed by symbols and
symbolism, Lajmi fails to move you into empathy or understanding, and leaves
you bored and irritated. It's a shame.