In India, a marriage involves the giving and taking of “gifts”. For the most part it’s not really a present, but in fact a dowry. However, since offering and accepting dowry in India is now an official crime, it has been denoted as a gift, present and so on. Dus Tola by Ajoy is a film which explores this very idea that may not be openly discussed in India but needless to say, does exist. Taking on a modest but superb cast that includes Manoj Bajpayee and veteran Asrani with Aarti Chhabria taking on the bride’s role. No guesses as to what the dowry in this case will consist of: lots and lots of gold of course, hence the title: Dus Tola. It may be an old idea but it is one that is not golden. So should you give up your time to watch a social film which discusses the old but prevalent idea of dowry? I would say yes from the get-go but read on to see why.
For Shankar (Manoj Bajpayee) gold is a part of his daily life as he comes from a family of gold merchants. So when the love of his life Suvarna (Aarti Chhabria) tells Shankar that if and only if, he manages to give her a mangalsutra of 10 tolas will she be allowed to marry him. All goes well and a mangalsutra of the correct weight is gifted to Suvarna but not before she betrays him and marries a wealthier man from Dubai. And when Shankar asks for his necklace back, she simply says he hasn’t given it to her and thus, giving it back to him is out of the question. It is only later that Suvarna and her husband realize that the 10 tola ka necklace was brass and never really gold anyway.
It’s a simple simple story; yes, it’s that simple. In fact, you are almost transported back in time to a day where such films were appreciated more than mainstream films. While it starts off rather slow, it picks up quickly and you are drawn into the pains of Shankar. In a day and age where skin and sleaze sell, it is a relief to see a film where clothes are worn and values are spoken about openly. Ajoy does an apt job to make a film that really hits home with its morals without sounding too preachy. Unfortunately, it will not connect with its younger audiences which in actuality is sad but their loss completely. Such films are needed to open up a realization but honestly, are not loved like they should be. This isn’t to say that such films don’t work. They do; primarily on television.
Dus Tola is Manoj Bajpayee all the way. We already know that he is an amazing actor but in Dus Tola he proves that even in a small film, he can shine and how. He doesn’ scream shout or howl, but portrays the role of Shankar in the most subtle of ways. If you loved his eccentric characterization in Rajneeti, you’ll adore him in Dus Tola. With this film, Aarti Chhabria proves she is capable of much more than she has been offered. The supporting cast is fantastic and provides apt support.
This is the catch of this weekend amidst the wannabe films that have released ala Hisss and Jhootha Hi Sahi. It’s honest and tells a story that needs to be told while it entertains too. Look, Dus Tola is no doubt a social film but that doesn’t mean it needs to be seen. In fact, Dus Tola is a must watch of the year. It’s the smaller films that have made the most impact in the industry this year. And Dus Tola is definitely one of them.