Monday, November 9, 2009

Firaaq - Nandita Das's, Well Directed, Debut Movie

Firaaq - The Separation

Firaaq is actor Nandita Das's debut movie (she has done it like a pro, though) and will be remembered as a well-made movie, on the aftermath of Gujarat riots.

This movie was with me for the past one month at least.  I was just postponing to watch the serious movie.  Whenever I think about Govind Nihalani's 'Tamas' and Kamal's Tamil movie, 'Mahanadhi', I get upset and had decided never to watch very serious movies again.  But like I reluctantly watched 'Parzania' I watched this also.  And cursed myself when I saw the opening scene of the movie...but because of the impact of the scene, I wanted to watch the whole movie.

The story/stories,  is about the lives of people, who were affected badly,  immediately after the Gujarat riots in 2002.   Nandita does not show any direct violence in the film, but the emotional side of some people who try to come to terms with what had happened and go on with their lives.

After the first disturbing scene in which our Tamil veteran actor Naasser had acted, the movie continues...Naseeruddin Shah, is an old classical singer, who still believes that everything is at peace out there and nothing has changed.  Raghuvir Yadav is a person serving him for years but he hasn't  got the guts to tell Naseer about the brutal killings. My favourite ghazal singer, Jagjit Singh has given voice for Naseer's humming song, which is very melodious and is the only song in the movie.  He rarely goes out of the house and wonders why no one is attending the 'bhaitaks' nowadays.  We know about Naseer, but Raghuvir yadav, who is a superb actor,  is not lucky enough to get good roles.

Then comes the story of a Muslim family who returns to their home only to find it burnt by rioters. The woman, Muneer (Shahana Goswami) and her Hindu friend and neighbour,  used to earn money, by going to the local weddings and applying mehandi in the bride's and other women guests' hands and legs.  Now, Muneer goes to a wedding with her friend and the friend places her own bindi on Muneer's forehead to avoid any mis-happenings.

Sameer (Sanjay Suri) and Anu (Tisca Chopra) act as   a mixed marriage couple who has to deal with their fears and decision to leave Gujarat for Delhi after their shop was attacked by the rioters.  The scene where Sameer, who is an educated person, changes his Muslim surname to his wife's Hindu surname out of sheer fear/weakness, depicts the reality of the situation at that time, in Gujarat.

A child gets lost in the big town, roaming around helplessly after all his family members are killed. The story of this child also gets connected with Deepti Naval who is guilty of being a coward and watching her own family (Paresh Rawal is the husband), which gloats and uses the situation to their advantage. She brings the Muslim child home and tells him not to tell his original name 'Mohsin', but Mohan,  if the family asks for it.  The conversation scenes between Deepti and the child are the most emotional ones in the movie which prove the immense talent Nandita Das has got.

Nandita has very correctly understood how women have a more humane streak towards people,  regardless of whatever faith/creed they are from. 

Then the story of a group of Muslim men,  all flustered and planning for revenge, which fizzles out in the end with the death of one, in a weird way.  The murderous nature, which is hidden behind ordinary people is visible in this scene.

Just one or two scenes show how the people of both faiths were living together happily, before the riots and how slowly some changes and doubts erupted in the friendship between them.

This is not a normal bollywood film with twists and turns and a positive or negative ending. Though I felt at times like watching a documentary movie because of the incompleteness of some incidents, this movie makes us think about our own nature, when faced with this type of situation.

This boy as Mohsin, has acted very well, in the movie.  The sadness in his eyes hurts us.  I just wonder what will happen to children like him, who are orphaned because of the unnecessary riots in the name of religion in our country or elsewhere in the world.   Will they ever be able to lead a normal life like us, or will they become the future terrorists to harm the whole world and themselves, like it is happening now, in Pakistan?

Edited to add(10.11.09):  The characters speak (Paresh Rawal's family) a lot of Gujarathi.  It was difficult for me to follow!

Photo courtesy 

Boy Photo courtesy


Saritha said...

Even i avoid watching mahanadhi,the first time i watchen i cried so much and that movie and the girl was in my mind for days.
Liked the review of firaaq,heard about the movie.Will try to get a dvd

Kavita Saharia said...

Oh Sandhya,even i avoid watching movies on partition or religious riots because i know at that time that many of the stories told are true and that disturbs me a lot....its insane killing in the name of religion.I will never watch FIRAAQ ,i don't have the heart to do so...too harsh reality.You have reviewed it so nicely and it is good to know that not much violence is shown here.The scene between Dipti and Mohseen must be great as you said.

Sandhya said...

Varunavi: Kamal's dailogue in Mahanadhi, after he saw his daughter in the Calcutta Red light area, god, I can never forget. Both of us cried and don't want to see the movie again in TV also.

Don't watch it when you are not in a mood, it hurts more.

Kavita: Violence doesnt hurt but when they show how it hurts small children and families, it hurts a lot.

R. Ramesh said...

hi S eppadi irrukingo?

Anonymous said...

Your review is lovely! I would want to watch it after reading it :) These days I hardly watch movies - but this one is on my list of 'to-be watched' movies. Sounds like a well directed movie. will definitely try and see it...

Sandhya said...

Ramesh: Romba Nallaa irukken, thanks!

wordsndreamz: If you are interested in good movies, this is one of them. Let me give you one more example of Nandita's direction, which I didn't include:

This boy Mohsin is sitting on one stool in an old room and watches a slightly big ant running here and there on the table. This boy suddenly catches it and holds in his fingers and presses tightly. The ant dies and falls on the table and this boy with eyes full of hatred says, "Saala mar gayaa".

Swaram said...

I watch very few movies Sandhya .. only when I hear good reviews .. I think this one is a must-watch! Such movies send a shiver down the spine though :( It pains to know ppl hv gone thru all this na :( Just thinking abt it is so scary and sad :(
Shud watch this one .. the relation b/w Mohsin and Deepti seems to be worth watching! Kudos to Nandita :)
Superb review Sandhya! Thanks :)

Shahana Goswami, Tisca Chopra - all gud artists! Gotta catch up with this one.

manju said...

Great review, Sandhya!

You have written in such detail- I really feel like seeing the movie! I'll try to get the DVD now.

Sandhya said...

Manju: I will wait to read your review of this movie, in your angle.

Unknown said...

From the time I heard about this movie, I knew it wasn't going to be an easy watch. Movies like Tamas, Parzania, Firaaq document a shameful chapter out of a past that cannot be erased. It's important to see what happens to innocent people when religious politics takes over.

Firaaq is surely an unsettling film, one that throws up difficult questions and demands urgent responses.

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