Zakhm (1998)

Directed by
Absolutely stunning film
Reviewed by Simon on 2000-08-07

Zakhm is quite unlike any Bollywood film I have seen before, a far cry from the song and dance routines and conventional moralities that are typical of the ITV late night slot at least. It is shot like a black and white Hollywood drama, and filled with tension and quite piercing political and social issues.

The context is Mumbai torn apart by religious hatred and violence. Muslims and Hindus are killing each other en mass. This friction is mirrored by events in one man's life, as his family is split in two by religion just as his society is. Much of the film is told in flashback, filling in the history of the family's deeply buried secrets.

The performances throughout the film are gripping, with the cast giving very convincing portrayals of the grief and fear their characters go through - one wonders what director Mahesh Bhatt might have put his cast through to get such fantastic acting. Particularly impressive is child actor Kunaal Khemu, whose honest and intense emotions are infectious.

Zakhm raises many issues about how we treat other people, and what issues are ever worth resorting to violence over. It is beautifully filmed, and the script is both intelligent and original. Unforgettable.