Following riots in Gujarat, Arati experiences guilt when she did not open her door to shelter an injured Muslim woman. Her husband, Sanjay, had looted merchandise from shops, and his brother, Devan, had even sexually molested Muslim women. A young lad, Mohsin, leaves the safety of an army-guarded camp to look for his father. Meanwhile Music maestro, Jahangir Khan, faces isolation. Sameer Shaikh and his Hindu wife, Anuradha, decide to re-locate to Delhi. Muneera suspects her Hindu friend, Jyoti, of setting her house on fire, while biased police officers continue oppressing Muslims and five Muslim men find a gun and attempt to seek vengeance. Written by
'Saat Suron Mein Itna Jadoo Kahan Ki Yeh Vehshat Rok Saken' - Nandita's sensitive & insightful offering.
Nandita Das, an actress known for her off-beat choice of movies and remarkable acting skills, wears the cap of a director and gives us a sensitive & thoughtful movie based on aftermaths of the Gujarat Riots, which unfortunately happened in 2002. Last year we had a brilliant movie "Mumbai Meri Jaan" which talked about different people who were victims or a part of Mumbai Train Blasts. On the similar lines "Firaaq" (means Separation or Judaai) tells stories of few people, their fears and the trauma they face after one month of the miss-happening in the state.
Though it may not be liked by mainstream viewers for its artistic treatment, but for a thinking viewer, "Firaaq" has depth, emotions and power to make you reconsider, what is the difference between two religions which causes so much hatred and bloodshed? Nandita Das succeeds in generating the empathy impact in the viewer as he witnesses the sequences on the screen. The film and its sensitive direction can make you understand the minute distinction in the words 'sympathy' and 'empathy'. You can feel the pain of victims as if it was all happening around you. And the credit goes to the intelligently written, well directed and brilliantly cinematographed scenes throughout the movie.
The first scene itself is the most important and impactful scene of the movie which is capable of generating chills down your spine. It's a graveyard scene where a loaded truck arrives giving more work to the grave diggers who already have enough bodies to bury together. In fact, this is the most powerful scene out of all the movies made on communal riots till date. The last time I felt this way watching anything on screen was when I saw Govind Nihalani's "Tamas" many years back. So hats off to Nandita for this particular scene.
The movie then moves into different stories of people who witnessed the massacre, and are still haunted by the memory of those black days. Deepti Naval, as a middle class housewife is trapped in the pool of guilt of not helping the persons who came to her house for shelter. And now she is punishing herself each new day, thinking about her cowardly act. Paresh Rawal as her husband is a cunning materialistic person who is more interested in taking advantage of the communal tensions in the city. Shahana Goswami and her friend both earn by inscribing mehndi on the hands of ladies in marriages. How a simple "bindi", saves them both from being treated otherwise is worth watching. A group of men manage to get a pistol with only one bullet and that also goes wasted in their own fight. 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 and she takes him to her home. The conversation scenes between Deepti and the child are the most emotional ones in the movie which prove the immense talent Nandita Sen has got.
However there are two stories which stand out and have a lasting impression on the viewer. One is about a Hindu-Muslim couple (Sanjay Suri & Tisca Chopra) who have decided to leave the city after their store was looted and destroyed. Their confrontation dialogues and two minds situation has been shot realistically which touches your soul.
The other moving story is about a true old classical singer (Naseeruddin Shah), 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 has not got guts to tell Naseer about the brutal killings. Jagjit Singh giving playback to the classical singing of Nasser brought back the memories of "Mirza Ghalib" once again. And when Naseer is asked what he can do to stop this, he rightly says with grief, "Saat Suron Mein Itni Taaqat Kahan Ki Yeh Vehshat Rok Saken". Very True! Here I would also like to mention a scene I found both emotional and disturbing to a great extent. As Naseer and Raghuvir pass through a road sitting in an autoricksaw, Nasser suddenly asks the driver to stop and comes out looking for something. Actually he is looking for an ancient and ages old mazaar which is not there where it was from years. Raghuvir calms him down explaining that we are on the wrong road and everything is fine. This is another well conceived scene equivalent to the first seen in the start.
In acting department everyone is there doing their part perfectly and are also well suited for their roles. Out of all, Naseeruddin Shah & Sanjay Suri stand out with their true to life performances and are a treat to watch. Cinematography is of first rate and plays a major part in giving the realistic touch to the movie.
"Firaaq" actually, should be seen more as an artistic and thought provoking docu-drama than as a mainstream Hindi movie. After the impressive & shocking start, your expectations rise sky high, which get fulfilled to some extent. But you also feel a little less satisfied as the movie finishes. That deprives "Firaaq" to be called an ultimate masterpiece, but still it is a movie which should be watched by everyone as a compulsion and you cannot afford to miss it.
That is why it also enters my "Movies To See Before You Die List" too.
So don't miss it as it is an intelligent and well made gift from the charming Nandita Sen. Would love to see her more works very soon.
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