Is 'Cheekh' an adaption of the 1993 Indian film 'Damini'?

The infamous name “Damini” rings a bell for all film connoisseurs, or anyone who grew up watching 90s Bollywood movies. And if you are one of those who were deprived of this joy, the memorable “Tarikh pay Tarikh” dialogue by Sunny Deol will most definitely help you remember. Rajkumar Santoshi’s powerful and gripping movie about a young woman who witnesses a horrifying rape of the house maid by her own brother-in-law and thus pushes herself towards seeking justice alongside a drunk lawyer is as relevant today as it was in the 90s. The movie talked of truth, justice and social change at a time when such topics were rarely spoken of, overshadowed by superficial romance and drama. But most important of all, the movie depicted the power of the individual. A singular woman manages to fight for the truth despite facing opposition from her own loved ones.

By now, the plot would have reminded you of another impactful drama currently on air on our televisions. ARY Digital’s newly started drama, Cheekh, is not just another typical drama with pretty actors shouting and crying over minor problems. Three loyal and loving friends find their lives in an upheaval when one of them mysteriously ‘jumps’ off the roof. As it turns out that she was raped and killed, her friends find themselves divided between family loyalty and justice. After a mere 3 episodes, Cheekh has attracted acclaim and interest from both households and the drama industry.

1993 Damini

The similarities between Damini and Cheekh are quite glaringly obvious. There are many plot pieces that seem so similar it’s eerie. There is a close ‘friend’ of the lead character who gets raped (Urmi for Damini and Nayab for Mannat). This lead character slowly finds herself at a crossroads where she has to choose between family and the truth. The entire storyline revolves around the themes of justice and truth as well. In Damini, it is Rishi Kapoor’s character’s brother who rapes the maid. In Cheekh, while the finger is not directly pointed at one culprit, the suspects are Wajih and Shariq, both of whom are great friends. And in both, the family in question is adamant on covering up the ordeal with their money and wealth, while the victim of the rape is from a poor family that cannot fight for their daughter in a corrupt judiciary system.

Damini has been referred to as a cult feminist film of the 90s, which is a title that holds a great deal of weight considering how topics such as rape were taboo at the time. And in a way, it can be said that Cheekh comes at a time when the same topics are still frowned upon. The two might share many similarities in their plotlines, but the question that arises is this: if the final result of such adaptations is bringing such social issues to relevancy once more, does it really matter that one inspired is from the other?

Cheekh, Big Bang Entertainment

Cheekh is still in its inception days, so perhaps the story might go in a completely different direction overall. Or it might stick to Damini’s tale of a woman’s iconic and brave fight for justice. Regardless of what happens, such adaptations are either a tribute to cult classic films of old or a testament of the fact that nothing has changed in all these years; in the time between these two, society did not learn from Damini’s tale. Perhaps Cheekh’s version might change this.

Umaima Munir is a film and theatre nerd who is extremely passionate about well-written scripts. Her love for television stems from days of watching old PTV dramas such as Andhera Ujala.

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2 Comments

  1. Momina January 24, 2019

    Fawad Mustafa and Dr. Ali Kazmi should then be men enough admit that they adapting Cheekh from Damini and give credit where it is due. Anything else is disrespectful. It's essentially theft of others intellectual property and in bad taste. It is painfully clear they have adapted Damini the movie. Come on, Fahad.It's also sad that we have so many real life horrific stories of abuse, deprivation of women's basic human rights and honour crimes against women in this very country and we also have mqany passionate unsung heroes and heroines who have devoted their lives to social activism and for empowerment of women yet Fawad Mustafa couldn't be bothered to make something even remotely original. I wish somebody would hire me to write original stories for serials.So many original ideas yet the entertainment industry is about copying other countries or juaet the usual "poor woman", mother in law vs daughter in law domestic disputes and usually the women have to cave, compromise, stay with the man despite the nonsense and disrespect he puts her through. Because somethings never change. Women still don't have basic rights and divorce initiated by women is still drenched in taboo and social stigma. Women who take that route are still considered bad. Rebellious. Men can divorce at whim, be unfaithful, beat her, bring home a second wife without the permission of the first wife, throw the wife out, keep the kids yet nobody lectures him. If course not all men are misogynists but let's face it misogyny in all its forms from slurs to honour crimes is still prevalent in our society. So yes somethings havent changed. When will those stories be told?