Dukaan, A Compelling Portrait of Motherhood and Morality

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], April 5: Film: “Dukaan” (Showing in Theatres near you); Duration: 132 minutes; Directors: Siddharth Singh and Garima Wahal; Produced by A Jhunjhunwala and SK Ahluwalia, Banner- Waveband production, Cast: Monika Panwar, Sikandar Kher, Insane Ashraf, Vrajesh Hirjee, Soham Majumdar, Monali Thakur, Azhar J Malik, Shreya Sharma, Hridansh Parekh; Rating: ***1/2

 “Tandoor mein chappati,” 

 “Ekdum, oven ma cake.”

This is how the characters in the film describe the womb of a pregnant woman and treat surrogacy as;

“Bachchon ka dukaan.”

 “Nahi, umeed ka dukaan”

This simple exchange reflects the complex and controversial subject at the heart of the narrative—surrogacy. Directed by Siddharth Singh and Garima Wahal, this cinematic gem, based on a true story, takes viewers on a captivating journey through the intricacies of motherhood, love, and sacrifice.

Set in Anand, Gujarat, Dukaan introduces us to Jasmine Patel (Monika Panwar), a spirited young woman whose life takes an unexpected turn following the tragic demise of her husband, Sumer (Sikandar Kher). What follows is a gripping exploration of Jasmine’s transformation from a carefree individual with no maternal instincts to a surrogate baby-making machine after she realises it is a mercenary world where wealthy childless couples rent a womb from underprivileged women. 

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The plot begins on a frail note but fluidly rolls out the story piecemeal with scenes of everyday life using realistic situations to get you under the skin of its characters. The telling picks up momentum after Jasmine has a change of heart during her third surrogate pregnancy and decides not to hand over the child to its prospective parents, Armaan and Diya (Soham Majumdar and Monali Thakur). 

The film’s strength lies in its ability to portray the multifaceted nature of surrogacy without resorting to clichés or melodrama. Instead, the film presents a nuanced depiction of ethical and emotional dilemmas its characters face, offering viewers a glimpse into the complexities of their lives. As Jasmine grapples with the moral implications of her decision to become a surrogate, the narrative unfolds with a sense of authenticity and depth, drawing audiences into her world with each passing scene.

At its core, “Dukaan” is a story about the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of love. The film is Monika Panwar’s canvas. She delivers a standout performance as Jasmine Patel, infusing her character with a rare combination of pragmatic vulnerability and strength. Through her portrayal, Panwar brings Jasmine to life, allowing viewers to empathize with her struggles and triumphs alike. Similarly, Sikandar Kher’s portrayal of Sumer adds depth and poignancy to the narrative, constantly reminding us of the fragility of life and the bonds that tie us together.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from Soham Majumdar and Monali Thakur as Armaan and Diya, the biological parents of Jasmine’s surrogate child Jamaal. Their nuanced portrayals add complexity to the narrative, highlighting the emotional toll that surrogacy takes on all those involved. 

Azhar J Malik as Jamaal is adorable

Additionally, the film features a notable guest appearance by Sunny Deol, whose presence adds a touch of star power to the proceedings.

From a technical standpoint, Dukaan excels on all fronts. The film’s cinematography beautifully captures the scenic beauty of Gujarat, while its evocative soundtrack enhances the emotional resonance of each scene. The songs – “Love Story Natthi,” “Moh Na Laage,” and “Maa Banne Wali Hoon” are heart-stirring and mesh seamlessly into the narrative. 

The attention to detail in every frame is evident, showcasing the filmmakers’ commitment to creating a visually stunning and emotionally compelling cinematic experience.

In conclusion, Dukaan is a triumph on multiple levels. With its thought-provoking storyline, stellar performances, and impeccable craftsmanship, the film offers a poignant exploration of- motherhood, morality, and the human condition. Whether you are a fan of thought-provoking dramas or simply looking for a captivating story, Dukaan is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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