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Film Review - Tehzeeb

Chitra Parayath

If Bergmanís Autumn Sonata (1978) inspired this film, poor old Ingmar must be squirming in his grave!

While Autumn Sonata probed, in an intelligent and affecting way, the ambivalent feelings in mother-daughter relationships, Tehzeeb counts on cheap/shrill sentimentality to put a similar story across.

When famous singer/performer Rukhsana Jamal (Shabana Azmi in a role she should leave out of her resume) decides to visit her married daughter Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar) after god alone knows how many years, she is welcomed with some trepidation by her offspring.

Tehzeeb, you see, resents her mother for killing her father (a bloated, pathetic looking Rishi Kapoor) many years ago, a scene she believes she witnessed as a child. While her mother was acquitted of the crime, little Tehzeeb had hidden the revolver in a shoebox. (The revolver makes a perfunctory appearance at the end of the film.)

Rukhsana is upset to find that Tehzeeb has sprung her mentally challenged young sister (Diya Mirza) from the Hospital to assume her care and well being. A couple of scenes of Mirza and one begins to sympathize with Ruksana, the girl is irritating beyond words.

Tehzeebís greatest asset, though, is Arjun Rampal who plays her tolerant and infinitely patient spouse Salim. Rampal is pleasing eye candy and this reviewer forgives him this trespass. Diana Hayden makes a baffling appearance (debut?) as a character so unhinged and unbelievable that one can only feel sorry for her. Her dialogues and atrocious accent are inexcusable as Khalid and Javed Akkhtar are credited with penning them.

While Rukhsana grows increasingly fond of her daughters, flaws and all, skirmishes between Tehzeeb occur regularly. The narration is punctuated with songs and dances; characters such as Namrata Shirodkarís (that have no bearing to the tale or telling) are introduced, allowed to appear in a fantasy song sequence and dismissed right after.

Well, things get a little tricky when the younger daughter decides to sing a song before shooting herself in the neck. Tense scenes at the hospital follow with the mother explaining to Tehzeeb that her fatherís death was a suicide. By which point the viewer is totally beyond caring about the whole mess and what drove it!
The gun shot victim sports a tiny little wound on the side of her neck; the daughters and mother embrace and prance back home.

Rukhsana then decides to go back to work and bids adieu to her girls. In an uninteresting twist, in more ways than one.

End of story.

Having spent a lifetime as Filmfare editor and film critic Khalid Mohamed has forgotten every caustic review he wrote of Bollywood films. Indulging in the very same crime (of making inexcusably bad cinema)he had chided others about, Mr. Mohammed has been rewarded with a flop verdict for Tehzeeb, from both critics and audience alike.

AR Rahmanís ghazals lose much of their appeal after one has seen how they have been picturized in the film. Cinematographer, Santhosh Sivan should leave this out of his resume as well.

Autumn Sonata has also been remade by Rituparno Ghosh (with better results) in the Bengali film Unishe April starring Aparna Sen and Debashree Roy.

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