A man who scoffs at religious practices, approaches God in a temple when he faces a life-shattering truth and begs him to 'reduce his punishment' for not following what the godmen preach. He tries to learn all the practices Hindus and Muslims follow but ends being the target of hardliners from both the religions and ends up paying a heavy price. Sounds familiar?
When Fuwad Khan's directorial debut was announced, rumours claimed that it was a sequel to the Akshay Kumar-Paresh Rawal-starrer OMG! Oh My God, a film that received great appreciation by both the critics and the ticket-paying janta. The movie, directed by Umesh Shukla, was a well-written satire on blind faith and godmen who take believers on a ride without any moral qualms as long as their coffers are getting filled. Needless to say, OMG didn't spare any religion, or practices. The makers of Dharam Dankat Mein, however, never tired of saying that their film is not a sequel.
Dharam Sankat Mein is based on Josh Apignanesi’s The Infidel (2010), written by acclaimed comedian and author David Baddiel. The Infidel is the story of Mahmud (played by Omid Djalili) whose life is turned upside down when he discovers that he is not a British Muslim, but was born in a Jewish family. Fuwad's film too is a satirical take on religious practices and fake godmen across all religions in India. Recently, Aamir Khan's PK too took on such superstitions we live with: and the film was critically acclaimed but it had to face the ire of various religious heads, who wanted the film to be banned.
The essence of Dharam Sankat Mein is exactly that. It traces the struggles in the life of a man who has lived his life as a Hindu, only to realise that he was born in a Muslim family. Nothing wrong with that. However, Fuwad Khan's film turns too preachy somewhere along the way and ends up giving endless gyan on how religion is not about blind faith or how godmen, who claim to connect you to the supreme power, have killed it's very spirit.
The content and storyline of the film feels too repettitive, especially if you have watched the Akshay Kumar-starrer Oh My God. Much like the 2012 film, Paresh Rawal again plays a Gujarati businessman who abhors religious practices and believes in the practical scheme of things. His family, incidentally, has way too much faith in all kinds of godmen. And, once again, Paresh is at the receiving end of the wrath and anger of both Muslim and Hindu hardliners while trying to save and unite his family.
Fuwad Khan must be appreciated for his political correctness. He has ensured that the film comes across as impartial and sensitive to all beliefs: It picks on the malpractices in both Hinduism and Islam; shows both the Imam (Murli Sharma) and Baba Neelannd (Naseeruddin Shah) as men hiding their ulterior motives in the guise of religion and ensures that there are enough rational-thinking people in both religious groups. So if there is an Imam who is hell-bent on converting Paresh to Islam, there is also a lawyer-neighbour (Annu Kapoor) who goes all out to help Paresh, despite all the fights they've had.
Paresh is an under-utilised actor in the film. His character is so similar to Kanjibhai from OMG, that there is nothing new the actor can offer in this latest flick. Naseeruddin Shah is brilliant as Baba Neelanand. His resemblance to some of our present day babas is just unmistakable: He makes his entry on a bullet, donning flashy goggles and clothes, and towards the end he tries to escape an enraged crowd in a salwar-suit!
Annu Kapoor too is very impressive as a Muslim lawyer trying to find his space in a Hindu-dominated residential society in Ahmedabad. Murli Sharma, as the Imam, looks very convincing.
Dharam Sankat Mein offers nothing new if you have watched PK, or OMG. Even if you haven't, the film is not a treat you want to go for. It is not funny, gets too preachy and has way too predictable storyline. Watch this, if you must, only if you are a big fan of acting prowess of Naseeruddin Shah and Annu Kapoor.