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Dahan (1998)

On her way home the newly wed Romita is molested by five men. The only one who has the courage to help is the young female teacher Jhinuk. Because of that she becomes a heroine and is on ... See full summary »


Rituparno Ghosh


Suchitra Bhattacharya (original novel), Rituparno Ghosh (screenplay)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Shakuntala Barua Shakuntala Barua ... Jhinuk's mother
Chandni Chandni ... Prostitute
Abhishek Chatterjee ... Palash Chaudhuri
Subhendu Chatterjee Subhendu Chatterjee ... Jhinuk's father
Sanjib Dasgupta Sanjib Dasgupta ... Tunir
Gopa Ghosh Gopa Ghosh
Indrani Haldar ... Jhinuk
Haramjadi Haramjadi ... Prostitute
Nirmal Kumar Nirmal Kumar ... Government lawyer
Rabiranjan Maitra Rabiranjan Maitra ... Gang leader
Suchitra Mitra Suchitra Mitra ... Jhinuk's grandmother
Rituparna Sengupta ... Romita Chaudhuri
Mamata Shankar ... Romita & Palash's sister-in-law


On her way home the newly wed Romita is molested by five men. The only one who has the courage to help is the young female teacher Jhinuk. Because of that she becomes a heroine and is on all papers' front page. But the page is turning: As not only the police but also neighbours begin to ask embarrassing questions the two women are eventually intimidated and the five man are getting free with the help of corruption and male domination. Written by Marco Radke <radke@krypta.aball.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »





Hindi | Bengali

Release Date:

17 February 1998 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Crossfire See more »

Company Credits

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User Reviews

A revealing drama of traumatic burns
18 July 2002 | by arnab_dasswayamSee all my reviews

That makes the viewers expect an exciting vision from the work of Rituparno Ghosh might have its first strongest presence in Dahan, which means burn. On a regional cultural level of India the massive blockbuster brings somewhat new approaches to narrative, screenplay, nature of theme, cinematography etc. and achieves a few awards.

The parallel narratives of three separate, apparently happy circles of relationships living in the same Indian megalopolis are brought in a matrix of (non)interaction, in connection of a brutal incidence of molesting a happy housewife Romita. It dramatically exposes the absence of dignity in the love relation of three young female characters, each of whom represents the center of each circle. The characters are made sufficiently distinct, and also the circles. Only the net effect of crude patriarchic tradition is similarly consequent upon the misery and utter loneliness of each young urban lady coming of different social micro-cosms. The early warmth of love is transformed into spreading burns of relations.

From the beginning of the film, the soliloquy of an urban female subject Romita behind the sensitive foreground of some delicate visuals of her daily domestic experience increases the depth of feeling of an introverted and helpless gender position. The viewers are also supposed to identify with the honest, self-seeking subject positions of camera.

Romita, an educated, sensitive housewife undergoing a short happy life of an arranged marriage is disillusioned about it. Jhinuk, a highly courageous teacher experiences a shocking misuse of her prolonged and profound love relation. A family enforces another girl to marry an anonymous and ultimately distasteful man only due to his high social status. All the central female characters come to encounter the subversion of their earlier beliefs, lose hope for the relations and feel to defy any blind submission to 'normal' tradition.

One would sense the operation of one grand humanitarian perspective, which finally succeeds to embrace the parallel narratives. At the end of the film the tragic soliloquy of Romita is relevantly superimposed on the actions of two other ladies. The grand perspective does not, however, reasonably qualify the conditions of other major female characters in the film. One might also question some drab precision in introducing the parental characters, except the grandmother of Jhinuk. Only the enlightenment of Jhinuk's old grandmother, who lives a life of a recluse, fails to give sufficient underpinnings to the process of growing burns--meaning Dahan-- in the personal lives of three young ladies. Moreover, one might seek clarification about why the good males either passively support the wrong system or remain helplessly inactive, while almost all the good female characters actively and passively fight with the system. The skill of the director lies in making such overt populism highly accepted by the spectators, males included.

The simple narration and fast screenplay are provided with certain critical turns, which reliably offer terrible wrench of gradually shocking consequences in all the parallel narratives. In framing the sequences the meticulousness of the director effectively draws the viewers close to nuance of the contexts.

All the actors and actresses have made justice to the characters. Although Indrani Haldar as Jhinuk and Rituparna Sengupta as Romita deserve special mention, the director's success of using a number of casts in the intricate sequences attracts very favorable response of the spectators. Let Rituparno Ghosh be more successful in refining his distinct genius and exceptional sensitiveness in his future directorial career.

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