I saw Firaaq this week and was quite impressed with its realistic portrayal of the events. Nandita Das is not just a very fine actress but also an active social activist, and it shows in her directorial debut. The movie is a no-nonsense take at the horrible Gujarat riots. What makes Das’ effort different is her characters. It’s how her characters evolve in the aftermath of the violence that’s makes the movie special.
And boy what a stellar cast! It seems you can’t miss Naseruddin Shah when you are making a socially relevant film. Naseer has turned another fine performance after ‘A Wednesday’. You are absolutely charmed by his character of Khan Saheb, the musician. You can feel the agony in his eyes when he realises that his city is buring with communal violence. His response to his caretaker’s, “Apko is baat ka gham nahin ke musalman maara ja raha hai?” [TRANS : Don't you feel sad that Muslims are being killed?]” is the dialogue that will stay with you. He says, “Insaan insaan ko mar raha hai is baat ka gham hai Kaleem miya!” [TRANS: "Human being is killing his fellow human being that saddens me!]”
Raghuveer Yadav is a brilliant actor be it any role, Firaaq is no exception either. He could have easily played the role of Kaleem miya, Khan saheb’s caretaker, in his sleep. It’s a pity that the world of Hindi cinema couldn’t fully utilize this tremendous talent. Ever since he charmed us in Massey Sahib almost two decades back, he’s given us some amazing performances on television and in movies.
The rest of the star cast too turned in restrained but commendable performances, be it the highly talented Shahana Goswami as Munira or Tisca Chopra as Anuradha Desai. Sanjay Suri has realised early that offbeat films is where he should focus on, and so far he is doing quite well. Mohammad Samad as the little boy Mohsin fitted the role perfectly.
For me the defining moment of the movie was when Munira (wrongly) thinks that her good (Hindu) friend was there when her house was being burnt down. In one shot the director was able to highlight the mistrust that the Muslims in Gujarat developed as a result of the mindless violence.
Sanjay Suri’s Sameer Shaikh speaks well for most educated Indian Muslims. Actually Das has managed to cover the majority of Muslim classes in India, and this is where she excels.
The musical score gelled well with the plot and was actually quite a surprise.
Firaaq is serious cinema, one that will hit you hard.