“A man can’t rebirth, a bullet can. It takes new birth in the course of history because hollow ruling power required it. A violent anti people’s state not only perpetrates violence, it also generates counts of violence.”
Most of the Govind Nihalani films preoccupied with theme of moral ambiguity of the honest cop in changing times. If ‘Ardh Satya’ was beginning of a young honest police inspector’s raw anger, Droh Kaal is extension of it as a family man following his duty. He has no other option left than to surrender himself to anti-social elements when his own family’s life is at the stake. It’s much hard for him to save his self image in his own eyes when he failed to protect his own family and the Senior Officer whom he adored shot himself to maintain honest impression of Police in public eye. His weakness also sacrificed life of his officer in charge and good friend. The only redemption for him is self sacrifice. The film also raises a moot point. The image of Police in the eye of layman is like hero. They don’t want to accept the reality that ultimately he’s also common family man and can make mistakes in his choice just like them.
Although Nihalani worked under his mentor Shyam Benegal for so many years; one can clearly see his own individual touch in his films. The influence of Scorsese is clearly visible in some of the blood soaked violence scenes and the up rolling tension of its protagonist. Its shocking for the viewers to see that as the film reach to its climax almost all the main characters of the film got killed including the main protagonist Om Puri.
Violence is undercurrent of Nihalani films but he never glorified it nor suppressed it from his characters. In fact it leads the conflict of the film and self introspection of many of his characters. In the end he always emphasizes the idea that no matter how far you escape from the ugliness of violence, it becomes part and parcel of your life. The mean of violence is indifferent towards the conscience of right and wrong and at the end always destroy both the sides.
What can one doubt when you have three ace actors on the sleeve of this fine director- Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri. Om puri and Nihalani is brilliant combination and always complementary to each others fine talents. He’s par excellence here too. He is not just tough cop nabbing and torturing criminals during his investigation but humanitarian too who wants to wipe crime not criminals. A scene where he tries to be sympathetic with shooter signifies this point. Nihalani presented him more mature and three dimensional this time than raw anger exuberating cop of ‘Ardh Satya’. The film also has fine ensemble cast of rising art house talents in their restrained performances- Mita Vashisht, Annu Kapoor, Manoj Vajpayee and introducing Milind Gunaji. Apart of Om Puri, another brilliant performance to watch here is cold blooded English educated militant leader Ashish Vidyarthi who believes, “Violence is the only weapon of change and the history has demonstrated it over and over again”. I must say this is his career best act. Although the film is minimalist, there isn’t any flaw on technical level whether its cinematography or editing.