Firaaq is a celluloid rhapsody of individualistic idiosyncrasies, collective aberrations and societal suicide, graphically and intensely captured by debutante director Nandita Das with unsuspecting sensitivity and susceptible sensibility.
Conceived in the aftermath of the infamous Gujarat riots of 2002, Firaaq provokes you into thinking particularly when most of us feel rather secure under an unstable shadow cast by an immensely avoidable eclipse of humanity.
Firaaq is a quest for humane identity in a world which is rapidly reverse evolving into an animal planet where living beings assume themselves to be humans but perpetually indulge in monkey-ing with life and donkey-ing with religion.
Firaaq is a multiple ensemble of characters with multifarious threads of emotions surging into a perplexed plait of poignant drama unveiling the human frailties in a fragile multi-layered society.
When passionate hatred overtakes the passion for life, when treason over-rules the treaty of peaceful co-existence, the individuals have no other go except the silence of a mass grave.
Set in the backdrop of the nefarious Gujarat riots of 2002, Firaaq explores the plight of hapless people in a hopeless tragedy that sweeps them into an inevitable corner where even redemption becomes blashphemy.
There is an ordinary housewife Aarti (Deepti Naval) facing the brunt of innate unhelpfulness, an extraordinary Hindu-Muslim couple Anuradha and Sameer (Tisca Chopra & Sanjay Suri) in a mode of rediscovery, maestro Khan Saheb (Naseeruddin Shah) devoted to divine music, his housekeeper (Raghuvir Yadav), Muneera (Shahana Goswami) left with a burnt house, an unconscionable wheeler-dealer (Paresh Rawal) and a host of characters played by Nowaz, Md Samad, Dilip Joshi, Sumeet Raghavan, Vicky Ahuja, Amruta Subhash and Arun Kumar.
Firaaq is not in the linear story telling format but the characters bubble out from the decaying fizz of dizzy societal formulations.
Nandita Das has come out with such masterful screenplay that no character has been allowed to out-grow the narration. The characters blended so naturally into the incidental events that the totality of the film is overwhelming in its impact.
All the actors delivered superlative performances. Their roles are identifiable, but the players are not as they consciously and rather surreptitiously got under the skin of the characters they were playing.
However, special mention should made about Sanjay Suri, Tisca Chopra, Shahana Goswami, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah.
The screenplay by Nandita Das should be prescribed as a compulsory study material in all film institutes right from Los Angeles Film School, USA to Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and Japan Academy of Moving Images.
The Conception, Characterisation, Camera work, Communication and Clarity of Firaaq is simply outstanding. The characters slipping smoothly into Hindi, Gujarathi, English and Urdu in their dialogues ensure an almost factual authenticity to fictional Firaaq.
Cinematographer Ravi K. Chandran of Ghajini fame and Sreekar Prasad, who edited Guru and Yuva, have provided a seamless visual brilliance to Firaaq.
Gautam Sen’s art work is truly a work of art with colours symbolizing the moods. Music and original score by Rajat Dholakia and Piyush Kanojia has enhanced the narration values.
Firaaq is not meant to entertain you. It has come from the depths of human agony and is aimed at disturbing your nonchalance and provoke you into thinking.
Firaaq is a haunting film with a taunting theme that emotionally tantalizes the inner self in the quest for peace and intellectually titillates the ultimate pleasure of cinematic experience.
It is truly unthinkable how a suave human transforms into a savage, a broad-minded person resorting to barbarous brutalities and in a moment of mindlessness how the entire societal structure goes berserk into a communal carnage.
Firaaq of Nandita Das eminently deserves the right to be seen, to be dwelt upon and to be indulged in thoughtful reflection.
We should unreservedly join with Nandita Das in her deep-hearted, full-throttled, scream-less yet profound protest against the inhuman atrocities a human inflicts on him/her-self and on the biosphere itself.
Firaaq has already won accolades and awards at the Asian Festival of First Films 2008 in Singapore, International Thessaloniki Film Festival in Greece, International Film Festival of Kerala and Dubai International Film Festival.
For film buffs and serious students of cinema, the quest for a very good Indian film ends with Firaaq, for the time being. Incidentally, the word firaaq in Urdu means both separation and quest.
The Cast and Crew
Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval, Nowaz, Mohd. Samad, Naseeruddin Shah, Sanjay Suri, Tisca Chopra, Shahana Goswami, Raghubir Yadav, Dilip Joshi, Sumeet Raghavan, Vicky Ahuja, Amruta Subhash, Arun Kumar
Writers: Nandita Das and Shuchi Kothari
Music Director: Rajat Dholakia, Piyush Kanojia
Camera: Ravi K. Chandran
Editor: Sreekar Prasad
Producer: Percept Picture Company
Director: Nandita Das
4 out of 5
Review of Deen Kumar
1 poor 2 average 3 good 4 very good 5 excellent