Dhoomketu- “The Comet”:
“Dhoomketu” is based on a story “The Comet” by Dr. Jayant Narlikar. It was in our coursebook too. So, there was an interest in finding out how it was adapted. The interest was frankly due to the fact that I had found that chapter a little dull. The adaptation however turned out to be quite amusing. And another CFSI movie, where the older generation takes a centre stage.
Mr. Kailash Dutta lives in Puna. He is an amateur astronomer and finding a comet (Dhoomketu) is his life’s secret ambition. His wife on the other hand is a little orthodox in her beliefs. She dislikes her husband spending so much time on his telescope gazing at the sky all night. While the couple’s inklings differ, they do not stop each other from pursuing their interests. Their grandchildren Bittu and Jhumki are of their grandfather’s orientation, often joining him in his celestial observations.
One night Mr. Dutta spots some new star in the sky. Bittu has snooped out on the roof and he is shown this new object by Mr. Dutta. But they are caught and scolded by Mrs. Dutta for spending so much time on the roof on a cold night. She takes Bittu along and tells her husband to come down too. But how can he. Perhaps this new object spotted might be an answer to his astronomical quest.
It’s morning and everyone finds Mr. Dutta absent, wondering where could he have gone at such early hours. After coming home, Mr. Dutta takes Bittu & Jhumki into confidence. He tells them that he has discovered a new Comet last night. And that’s why he went out. To send a telegram to National Observatory, Bangalore, giving them the details of his discovery.
In a few days the observatories in India and around the world confirm Mr. Dutta’s discovery and the Dhoomketu/ Comet is named after him- “Comet Dutta”.
It’s a moment of great pride and joy to all. All except Mrs. Dutta. She feels that comets are inauspicious. “Ye dhoomketu bade ashubh hote hain”, she tells her husband. And it will be especially so for their family, since Mr. Dutta’s name is attached to it.
A young scientist working on the “Comet Dutta” makes another discovery during his calculations. He rushes to inform his senior about it. According to his calculations, he tell his senior, that Comet Dutta would collide with the earth in a few weeks’ time. This would mean complete destruction. Immediate actions are taken and a high level meeting is called in Geneva to discuss this forthcoming disaster. Mr. Dutta and the scientist who made the discovery are also called.
Averting the disaster:
The scientists and officials gathered at Geneva discuss on the means which could be adopted to avert the tragedy from occurring. A final plan is laid down. Dr. John Reddington who is presiding over the conference tells Mr. Dutta that an official named Ms. Veronica will come to his home to take his file on his findings on the comet.
While the scientists of the world are gathered around to plan for preventing the tragedy, Mrs. Dutta is looking for her own ways to the ward-off the evil effect of the comet. Her guru, Swamiji has prophesied total destruction. He proposes holding of a “Yagna” to avert this. Since the comet was discovered by Mr. Dutta he is required to perform this yagna. If he is not present his grandson can sit on his behalf.
Mr. Dutta comes home to the news of his wife having organised a yagna and having taken Bittu to do it. He is angry. But Kamala Devi is equally staunch in her beliefs. Her Swamiji told her of the doom the comet is going to bring and they have now prevented it.
A few days later two ladies come to Mr. Dutta’s house to collect his file. He gives it to them, hoping that now the scientists will be able to work out their plan and prevent the collision from happening.
So does it happen? Not the collision. I mean does the plan succeed? Is the collision averted? And if so, to whom the success of the plan should be attributed. The scientists or the yagna.
That’s the question, Dr. Narlikar pondered over in his story. That’s the question which will get several answers.
But for now to the movie.
As I said earlier, I found “The Comet” a bit boring. But that may due it’s being in the coursebook. So I read it again, and still found it sort of flat.
“Dhoomketu” takes the basic premise of Dr. Narlikar’s story, and weaves out an entertaining tale. Barring minor changes to names and places, most elements of the story have been retained. For eg.. in the story Mr. Dutta lives in Calcutta, in the movie it becomes Puna. Since it’s a children’s movie some things are added to make it enjoyable. Like an international gang after Mr. Dutta’s papers, two resourceful and adventurous kids and a little action. And the straightforward story turns entertaining. The elements however do not change or distort the real gist and message behind Dr. Narlikar’s vision of the story.
“The Comet”, dwells on the question of disparity in people’s thinking. One one hand there are superstitions and on the other there is rational thinking. The same question is dealt in “Dhoomketu”, taking it a further step ahead, suggesting a possible way to minimize the gap and thus provides an overall satisfying experience.