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.
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
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 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.