Scriptwriter-turned-director Khalid Mohammad’s Tehzeeb delves into the complex relationship between an influential mother and her daughter.
Rukhsana Jamal (Shabana Azmi) is an ambitious and famous singer who puts her ambition before anything in life, even her family. Tehzeeb (Urmila Matondkar) is her emotionally repressed daughter who has grown up in the shadow of her domineering mother and has seldom been able to assert herself to anyone except her mentally retarded sister Nazneen (Diya Mirza).
Tehzeeb finds a life companion in a light-hearted writer Salim (Arjun Rampal). Salim understands Tehzeeb’s deep anguish despite the fact that she is not able to express it to him.
Much against her mother’s wishes, Tehzeeb marries Salim and is partly glad to cut ties with her mother. Her sister Nazneen stays with them.
Five years go by when Rukhsana pays a visit to Tehzeeb and Nazneen. Although it is a family reunion, it leads to a number of confrontations between Tehzeeb and her mother.
Tehzeeb has something simmering inside her and she won’t be able to find any peace of mind until she gets it out. At the same time she has respect for her mother and looks forward to her approval in small things of life like cooking.
The reunion between mother and daughter leads to a number of emotional outbursts riddled with revelations, resentments, anger and allegations. Their complex relation reaches a climax when Tehzeeb holds Rukhsana responsible for her father’s (Rishi Kapoor’s) death.
Tehzeeb appears to be inspired from Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Autumn Sonata’, which too was based on strained relations between a mother and her daughter.
The film tells the story of a young girl from the point of view of her husband (Salim), who is also the narrator of the story. Salim takes a viewer through Tehzeeb as a child, her relationship with her parents, and her bond with her husband and her mentally challenged sister.
The movie has certain subtle elements that show the complexity of relation between Tehzeeb and her mother. For instance, the sequence when Tehzeeb rehearses before mirror how she would greet her mother shows how uneasy it is for her to assert herself before her mother. And then the dramatic sequences between Shabana and Urmila are the most gripping parts of the movie.
However, the movie also has a number of downers like the ill-placed track between Arjun Rampal and Diana Hayden. Then the sequence when Tehzeeb tries to mimic the likes of Shammi Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, Sridevi and Mehmood is not the least entertaining.
Still, the movie is able to capture a number of emotions without getting mushy or stodgy. The credit partly goes to well-written script and intense performances from both Shabana Azmi and Urmila.
While Diya Mirza just about manages to play her character, cameo by Namrata Shirodkar seems forced into the narrative. Diana Hayden looks pathetic and superficial speaking highly accentuated Hindi.
On the whole, the movie is rich in emotions and will appeal to those who care for emotional subtleties rather than crass and over-fictitious mushy dramas.