Dharam Sankat Mein Movie Review



The plight of a man forced by circumstances to owe allegiance to two religious faiths could have been wonderful grist to a sly social satire. Unfortunately, the unique premise is wholly wasted here: all it yields is a tepid film that is neither particularly insightful nor consistently funny.

The crisis at the heart of the plot of Dharam Sankat Mein extends well beyond the conflict that the protagonist confronts. It quickly engulfs the film as a whole as it beats about the bush and barely gets its act together.

Cinematographer-turned-director Fuwad Khan fails to decide whether his well-meaning story should tilt towards all-out emotional drama or hurtle down the path of outright wit and humour.

In the process, Dharam Sankat Mein falls with an ungainly thud between two stools positioned disastrously far apart.

Paresh Rawal, who played a similar role in the markedly more expressive Oh My God, dons the garb of an Ahmedabad-based businessman, Dharampal Trivedi, who is not particularly religious-minded but is openly prejudiced towards Muslims.

After the death of his mother, the 50-year-old discovers that he was actually born a Muslim but brought up by Hindu parents.

Dharampal also learns that his biological father is alive but ailing. He goes to the home for the aged to meet the old man only to be told by the presiding maulvi (Murli Sharma) that he can do so only if he acquires all the trappings of a devout Muslim.

So the man gets down to the task of grasping the tenets of Islam and mastering the nuances of Urdu diction with the help of lawyer Nazim Ali Mahmoud Ali Shah (Annu Kapoor), his Muslim neighbour.

Dharampal’s dilemma is doubled because his son is in love with a girl whose parents are staunch followers of an eccentric Hindu godman with a penchant for the pleasures of the flesh, Neelanand Swami (Naseeruddin Shah).

Dharampal lands in a serious quandary: he cannot abandon his Hindu identity altogether even as he desperately seeks to turn into a practicing Muslim.

He continues to chant shlokas from the Bhagvad Gita and verses from the Quran with equal fervour: a situation that is mined for laughs with quickly diminishing returns.
It is obvious that what Dharam Sankat Mein is trying to say is perfectly rational, and even necessary, but how it chooses to say it is overly hackneyed.

The film is irretrievably marred by a patchy screenplay that flits aimlessly from one issue to another without quite articulating any of its pet peeves with the required clarity and force.

In the bargain, Dharam Sankat Mein ends up making a hash of the simple point that it wants to put forth: self-styled custodians of religion are frauds and therefore should not be trusted; humanity is all that matters.

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