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83%
3.67 

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Is Our Country Really SECULAR?
Mar 24, 2009 02:03 PM 4466 Views
(Updated Mar 24, 2009 02:38 PM)

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Did the founder of any religion ever preach violence? Did any of these holy men give his followers an allowance to kill people of other faiths? NO is the answer. Yet, our country has faced riots and serious communal tensions, most of them in the last 100 years. The people have prejudices against a particular community and with such an atmosphere, peace can never exist. Politicization of religion has further ruined the whole picture. Firaaq, a bold attempt by Nandita Das, throws light on the trauma faced after communal riots.


The story of the movie: The story is set in Ahmedabad, a month after the horrible Gujarat riots in 2002. The story has six parallel characters:




  1. Muneera (Shahana Goswami), married and has newborn baby, and is shocked because her house was burnt down in the riots. She has a friend-her only confidante who is a Hindu.




  2. Muneera’s husband Nowaz (Hanif) who is angry of being the victim of Hindu atrocities and along with few of his aides, wants to seek revenge




  3. A battered Hindu housewife, Aarti (Deepti Naval), has an anti-Islamic husband Sanjay (Paresh Rawal). Aarti is helpless with whatever is happening around her. She feels the guilt but can’t overcome it.




  4. Sameer Sheikh (Sanjay Suri), married to a Hindu lady Anuradha (Tisca Chopra), fears due to his Muslim identity, and wants to run away to Delhi.




  5. Mohsin (Mohammad Samad), a young boy, who has lost almost all his family members, is wandering on the streets, searching for his missing father.




  6. Khan (Naseeruddin Shah), a musician, a saint, who has his own set of ideas he strongly believes in until the riots turn his world upside down.






Firaaq’s first scene is scary. In fact, there hasn’t been any such chilling scene ever before in any film. While the film may be dubbed as showing only one side of the entire incident, it’ll be completely wrong to term it as pro-Muslim. Sure, the film shows the trauma faced by the Muslims, but it doesn’t become judgmental at any point or takes sides.


All characters in the film are well-sketched. The developments that take place in the narrative are highly engrossing. Also, the film is just 100 minutes long, but packs in so much in such a short duration! Though the film is highly applauding, it is the climax which seemed too inappropriate, especially in Shahana Goswami’s track.


Prior to the film’s release, a leading political party wanted to ban the film and criticized that a film of such a nature is being purposefully released during Elections with the help of a rival political party. I don’t know whether this is the truth but I am really glad that Firaaq released at such a time. The film shows the hard, bitter truth of the situation during the Gujarat riots. The film indirectly helps us get our facts right and choose the right government. Any government or its head involved in such heinous crimes and activities doesn’t deserve at all to get a chance to run the country at all.


Performance-wise, each actor gave his best. However, four actors were outstanding-Shahana Goswami, Mohamaad Samad, Deepti Naval and Sanjay Suri. Shahana Goswami was splendid. She was completely into her character and it’s difficult to believe she was the same actor who was there in ‘Rock On!!’. She is surely a powerhouse of talent and has a long way to go!


Mohamaad Samad’s innocent sad face mirrors the harsh atrocities of the riots. Surely, a mind-blowing performance! Watch out for him in the final scene. Deepti Naval, too, was fantastic and did a perfect job. Same for Sanjay Suri. Both Suri and Naval essayed a role which was strong and both of them did total justice to it.


Naseeruddin Shah as always gives a splendid performance. Paresh Rawal was perfect as the Gujarati businessman. Tisca Chopra as usual did a great job. It was a great to see her after a long time, after Taare Zameen Par. Nowaz did a fine job and was amazing in the pre-climax. Amruta Subhash as Jyoti was excellent. Raghuveer Yadav, Dilip Joshi, Sumeet Raghavan and Sucheta Trivedi were good.


Rajat Dholakia and Piyush Kanojia’s background score completed suited the mood of the film. Ravi K Chandran, the talented cinematographer who has worked in Ghajini, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Saawariya, Fanaa etc was outstanding. It’s great to see him working in such a film even after having worked in big-budget films.


Gautam Sen’s art direction was authentic. Same can be said for editing and sound design. Dialogues were brilliant and the film also has lots of Gujarati and English dialogues (sub-titles included) to give it a realistic feel.


Nandita Das and Shuchi Kothari wrote the story and screenplay of the film (the latter is from Ahmedabad and had witnessed the riots). Both of them came up with a brilliant plot, based on hundreds of real incidents which took place during the riots. What’s unique about the story is it focuses on the impact of fear, anxiety and prejudices on relationships during such turbulent times and not on the course of the riots.


Nandita Das’ direction was simply awesome. She had already proved her worth as an actor, having acted in many controversial films and being critically acclaimed. Her choice of story for her first film itself is worth applauding. She’ll surely be counted as one of the finest directors of Indian film industry in near future!


Some of the best scenes of the film:




  1. The first scene




  2. All scenes of Shahana’s track




  3. Anuradha and Sanjay’s collision




  4. Hanif and his aides’s plan to kill Mehul




  5. Khan Sahab with the doctor




  6. Sameer revealing his fears




  7. Sameer at the omlet seller’s




  8. Raghuvir Yadav injured




  9. Hanif and his aides inside the shop and the chase by the cops




  10. The final scene of Mohsin






On the whole, Firaaq is a brilliant docu-drama. It’s well executed and gives a wonderful account of the shameful incident. Some of the scenes shock and hits the viewer like a pile of bricks. It raises several questions, one of which being-is our country really secular?


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