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Film Analysis of Dharm

  • Date Submitted: 02/27/2015 01:44 PM
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FILM ANALYSIS – Dharm (2007)

The story line of the film ‘Dharm’ follows the life of Pandit Chaturvedi, a highly respected, learned and religious Brahmin, who lives with his wife Parvathi and daughter Vedika, in Benares. His life takes an unexpected turn after he adopts an abandoned baby boy (who was brought into the house by his daughter) and raises him as his own son. The boy, who is named Karthikey, fills Pandit Chaturvedi’s life with joy and happiness. However, this happiness is short lived for Karthikey’s mother returns. It is at this point that Pandit Chaturvedi realizes that he had been bringing up a Muslim boy as a Brahmin. The family is forced by religion to turn the boy away and Panditji spends much of his time trying to purify his soul, which he believes was contaminated after coming in contact with a Muslim. However, a Hindu- Muslim riot in Benares brings the child back to Panditji’s life. The chaos and turmoil caused by the riot forces the Panditji to question his belief on ‘Dharm’ and paves way to his understanding of the true meaning of religion.

Religion, mainly Hinduism, is given the maximum emphasis in this film. It is a movie written from a Hindu perspective for a Hindu audience. The film serves as a metaphor for Panditji’s inner journey, and his transition from an idealized scholar to a human who understands the ‘true’ meaning of religion. The film uses Panditji’s personal conflicts to reflect on the larger societal issues- the Hindu-Muslim conflict or more specifically, communal riots. It oversimplifies and presents an unrealistic assessment of communal violence.

Dharm is an attempt to emphasize the importance of unity and tolerance and the universality of human emotion, but it ends up merely glossing over sociocultural differences and the rather difficult national history. Dharm’s explicitly Hindu perspective has major logical loopholes. To suggest that communal violence is a result of righteous Hindus who misinterpret scripture, and that...

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