Review

Doob review: Irrfan Khan’s sombre family drama shakes your soul

Release Date: 22 Nov 2017 / 01hr 26min


Cinestaan Rating

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Mayur Lookhar

Bangladeshi director Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s tale of failed relationships leaves a deep impact.

Sometime in mid-2012, I met Irrfan Khan at the DVD launch of his critically acclaimed film Paan Singh Tomar (2012), the biopic of a sportsman-turned-dacoit, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. While I do not recall his exact words, Khan said something to the effect that he craves for stories that move him, that challenge him as an actor, where he transforms himself into those characters.

It is an aspiration you hear from many actors, but I could sense that hunger in his deep eyes, a sense of frustration at not getting too many such stories or characters that push him to his limits.

Irrfan Khan has given stellar performances in many a films, but there is something about this Bangladeshi film, Doob (No Bed Of Roses), that satiates his hunger for a telling tale.

Directed by the noted filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, the film was screened in the Cinema of the World section at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. An India-Bangladesh co-production, with Khan doubling as co-producer, Doob is a beautiful family drama that not only moves you with its sombre tale, but also pricks your heart.

The film is reported to be loosely based on Bangladeshi writer and filmmaker Humayun Ahmed. The second wife of the late novelist had even filed a formal complaint against the film.

As the title suggests, filmmaker Javed Hasan (Khan) is torn between his family and his muse Nitu (Parno Mittra), who is apparently his daughter Saberi's (Nusrat Imrose Tisha) childhood friend and schoolmate. 

Nitu walks out of Hasan’s film citing personal reasons, with the media strongly speculating her relationship with Hasan. Inevitably, it breaks his marriage with Maya (Rokeya Prachy) and Hasan plunges into a pit of loneliness and depression.

The title is enough to suggest this is no inspirational story, but the apathy of Hasan and company will strike a chord, especially in those who have endured failed relationships.

Farooqi does not paint Hasan as the villain. The filmmaker is detached from his family, but neither does he find solace in Nitu's company. The body language of Nitu and Hasan also do not suggest they share a close bond. One can only conclude that, perhaps, this is a relationship of convenience.

The righteous would label Nitu the villain, and the feminists would hold Farooki guilty of presenting her as an obsessive character, but it would be naïve to look down on Nitu as a 'home-wrecker'. 

It is the complexity of relationships that drives the film. For Saberi, Nitu has always indulged in one-upmanship and the latter's affection for her father is nothing but a farce.

Often, tales of a director and his muse are deemed a subject for gossip. Farooki, though, stays clear and gives us an insight into how a family is torn apart when faced with such predicament.

Hasan may be in the wrong, however, you can't help but symphathize for him. Such is the brilliance of Irrfan Khan who portrays the pain, the frustration, the helplessness of Hasan. Sadness is writ large on Khan's face, as Hasan is resigned to his fate. You are left numb when Hasan asks his teenage son to tell the bullies in school that his father is indeed a bad man. That scene reflects both anger and repentance.

Khan's fine acting almost makes you forget that he is an Indian actor, born in Rajasthan, who has adapted to the Bangla language adequately. That, however, is best left for the Bengali-speaking viewers to judge. What is indisputable is that Khan has lent his soul to Hasan.

For Indian viewers, especially non-Bengalis, Nusrat Imrose Tisha and Rokeya Prachy are unfamiliar names, but Doob will help them win new fans in the country.

Nusrat comes across as a breath of fresh air. She epitomizes the child from a broken family. Like any child who has seen her parents part ways, Saberi goes through the initial period of angst, wherein she also lambastes her mother for being meek. 

Time many not have healed it, but it certainly softens the wound as Saberi helps her mother gain new vigour in life. There are different layers to Saberi, and Tisha immaculately succeeds in bringing them out. Also impressive is Bangladeshi actor Nader Chowdhary, who plays Hasan’s brother. 

The simple story is backed by outstanding performances, but what compliments the acting is some fine photography by Sheikh Rajibul Islam. The cinematographer not only captures the beauty of Bangladesh, but also a few heartwrenching moments in wide shots. Thus, the grief does not spill on to the screen. 

Keeping the background music minimalistic, director Farooki and his sound designers have tapped more into natural sounds.  

The screenplay drags a bit in the first half but Farooki gets it right at the business end. For all those who lead normal, happy lives, Doob might come across as an unwanted thorn. For those from broken homes, it offers no redemption. The film may not be garlanded with roses, but it is one that carries the fragrance.