We’ve always been of the view that Ajay Devgan is a mediocre actor.
And Zakhm (1998) does not change our view.
Still Zakhm is one of those exceptional, must-watch movies that casts a spell over viewers.
And the hero of Zakhm is not Ajay Devgan – though ostensibly he is listed as the main actor – but the solid story and screenplay, and intense performances by Kunal Khemu and Pooja Bhatt.
Directed by Mahesh Bhatt (Pooja Bhatt’s father) and starring Ajay Devgan, Pooja Bhatt and Kunal Khemu (as the younger version of Ajay Devgan) in key roles, Zakhm proves that with a powerful story and screenplay andÂ a capable director at the helm Bollywood can put out fine films even with ordinary actors like Ajay Devgan.
Zakhm’s moving story focuses on that perennial Indian tinderboxÂ – the social tensions between Hindus and Muslims.
While the Hindu-Muslim tensionsÂ in Zakhm are mostly addressed within the context of a single family, in the end communal violence in the larger society impacts this family.
Although Bollywood has addressed communal tensions in a gazillion films, Mahesh Bhatt still manages to turn Zakhm into an engaging film through a shrewd cocktail that combines Hindu-Muslim tensions, romance and politics.
Playing the younger Ajay Devgan, Kunal Khemu has delivered an amazing performance so rare in youngsters in Indian movies. Khemu was probably 14-years-old when Zakhm was made.
We saw Khemu again a few years back in KalyugÂ and the young lad has indeed blossomed into a fine actor. What a shame that we get to see talented actors like Khemu rarely in Bollywood while lesser talent are forever torturing us.
Pooja Bhatt renders a decent performance too in Zakhm though we wished she wouldn’t open her eyes so widely.
One of the jarring notes in Zakhm is the presence of Telugu film star Nagarjuna, whoÂ plays Pooja Bhatt’s spineless lover. This fellaÂ is plain awful. Total bereft of any acting talent, how Nagarjuna made it to this film is the mother of all mysteries.