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Urmila, Shabana excel in Tehzeeb

By Seema Pant
December 05, 2003 20:20 IST
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"I started out to make an acknowledged remake of Autumn Sonata because I was fascinated by the mother-daughter relationship," said Khalid Mohamed in an interview to

Like Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata, Tehzeeb is about the strained relationship between a mother and her daughter. It is about Rukhsana Jamal (Shabana Azmi), a famous and ambitious singer, and her daughter Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar).

Salim (Arjun Rampal), Tehzeeb's husband and the narrator of the film, takes you through Tehzeeb as a child, her relationship with her parents and then as an adult and her relationship with her writer husband and mentally challenged sister. Happy-go-lucky novelist Salim, with a song or couplet for every situation, brings light moments in the film that is otherwise marked with thick tension.

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Tehzeeb lives happily with her loving husband and her mentally challenged sister (Dia Mirza), until Rukhsana decides to renew ties with them after five years.

You realise all is not well with the relationship when the mother and daughter are shown practising in front of their mirrors how to greet each other when they meet the following day. The scene is both touching and funny.

Tehzeeb is both happy and anxious about the visit. Rukhsana is as anxious as her daughter.

While we know Tehzeeb is bitter about something her mother may have done, we also know that she is always looking for approval from her mother, whether it is her choice for a husband or her cooking.

Urmila as the emotionally scarred Tehzeeb, who is uncomfortable expressing her feelings even to her husband, has done a commendable job. The only person she expresses her love to is her mentally challenged sister.

Shabana Azmi as Rukhsana is exceptional. She lives the role. While she loves her daughter, she cannot let go of her image of a famous singer.

The director slowly builds up the tension between the mother and daughter till it finally explodes when Tehzeeb blames her mother for her father's (Rishi Kapoor) death.
Tehzeeb is all about feelings. 'Real emotions,' as the lady sitting next to me said.

The director says he picked moments from Shabana and his life and adapted the story of Autumn Sonata to Indian tastes. He succeeds and has his audiences' attention through the film. They laugh and cry with the characters in the film. They sympathise with Tehzeeb and are waiting for her to give vent to her feelings.

That is not to say there are no loopholes in the film. The songs, for one. The film is about a singer but, strangely, it could have done without these songs. Their picturisation was sheer self-indulgence on the director and choreographer's part. They only work as speed-breakers in an otherwise smooth narrative.

The Diana Hayden and Namrata Shirokar scenes are not fleshed out properly. As a result, they stand out like sore thumbs. Hayden has a long way to go before she can leave an impact in Hindi films.

Cast: Urmila Matondkar, Shabana Azmi, Dia Mirza, Arjun Rampal, Diana Hayden
Director: Khalid Mohamed
Producer: Seven Studio Picture
Music: A R Rahman
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Cinematographer: Santosh Sivan
Art Direction: Sharmistha Roy
Dialogues: Javed Siddiqui

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Seema Pant