There are films that are bad and those that are terrible. The first can be tolerated, but the latter, need to be avoided like a disease. Dam999, that upholds everything from superstition to Brahminical supremacy and racism, is one such film
A rickety dam threatens millions of life even as a corrupt major ignores it. A young man who returns to his ayurvedic healer father to help cure his son, falls in love with his childhood sweetheart but theirs is a love destined for failure as every expression of their love leads to disaster. At the face of it, Dam999 looks like a film made to sell India and the concept of ayurveda and karma to spirituality-hungry foreigners.The movie upholds sinister stereotypes. First of all it preaches superstition and intolerance. While the world is moving towards the idea of every man in charge of his destiny, using unintelligible karmic mumbo-jumbo, Dam999 claims that every man is actually a slave to his fate and it’s hence useless to fight it. What is the director trying to say here – that an oppressed man stays oppressed, that those struggling should not try to better the lives of their families and communities? In showing a Brahmin with the ability to see and alter destinies, it plays to the racist gallery once again. Further accusation of racism can be levied when it picks a dark coloured man, Ashish Vidyarthi, to play the ruthless mayor, the only villain in the film. Dam999 is also an anti-disabled film. It shows a wheel-chair bound person miraculously cured in no time by with the help of ayurveda. This does two things, show ayurveda to be a magic pill and secondly inspire parents to reject their disabled kids further.
Yet, the film could have made a statement against man’s insane desire to control nature. Though it tries, it was so muted and blurred that it actually does disservice to the possible cause. Good direction, actors and attention to detail could have salvaged the film. Sadly it manages to find the worst actors to play their individual parts. Vimala Raman who plays Meera, an ayurvedic doctor who has never been abroad, has an English ascent, while Joshua Fredric Smith has such a terribly accented and uncontrolled English diction that it is hard to understand what he is saying most of the time. The usually brilliant Rajit Kapur is also unconvincing as a South Indian. Ashish Vidyarthi, however, does a good job as a barbaric mayor. The special effects and 3D isn’t comment worthy either. Director Sohan Roy is a multimillionaire businessman. Perhaps it is his megalomania, where those he hired wouldn’t tell him what was wrong, that ensures that the film receives a quick watery grave. In the end, the only thing damned in this dam-burst of mediocrity, is the film itself. It is indeed a shame that Warner Bros. couldn’t find anything better to promote than this ‘damned’ film. Other talented directors would suffer due to this.