Review - Firaaq: futility of fanaticism

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
quick review:

Maintains a matter-of-fact tone without seeming indifferent. The entire range of characters verbalize or remain silent but communicate effectively.

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Wogma Review

Firaaqisn't the first film about the communal riots in Gujrat. And it isn't the first well-made film either. You can sense each character being approached with sensitivity yet there's no attempt at sensationalizing by gory visuals or lengthy dialogue or dramatizing trauma. All of these have huge potential and are often used in movies with this backdrop.

As dead bodies are passed along in the first few scenes you know this is going to be serious business. And Firaaq offers no respite. Male chauvinism, identity crisis, communal differences effecting friendship, impact of violence on a young mind, a philosopher's hope, rebel by the suppressed, an innocent victim's helplessness, misuse of the angst created, and ultimately the mother of all issues - no solution in sight. All of these are brought to you one after the other, relentlessly.

These facets of human nature rightly need a variety of characters. The effort behind writing each character shows clearly. Sure some of them, like a chauvinist Gujrati husband (Paresh Rawal) or an agitated Muslim (Nowaz) might have been easier to write because they play on the standard stereotypes. But, others like the sensitized house-wife (Deepti Naval), the confused urban businessman (Sanjay Suri) have been worked hard upon. Use of multiple languages adds to the realistic environment created. A sudden line of profundity comes in just like one person from a group of friends might spurt one out while arguing about some socially relevant issue.

And yet the movie is not entirely engaging. It could be because it offers no closure but that also leaves a sense of incompleteness. for a movie so careful about what it's trying to say, there were some scenes which didn't really belong. It’s difficult to imagine that they were there without a purpose but because I didn't understand them they distracted me.

White, black or gray - not one actor leaves an ounce of doubt in terms of believability - including some of the side characters. Again with a film so full of brilliant performances, it's difficult to name one even if it is the most senior of them. Because even a child with his blank eyes contributes equally to the film as do the veterans. There aren't any strong fundamentalist characters who are propagating their agenda. So there are no lectures. In fact you see how situational each character's behavior is. There are some brilliant moments that are subtly enacted which are better experienced than read about in a review.

Firaaqvery, very carefully doesn't take sides. There are as many "good", "evil", and "indifferent" characters from both Hindu and Muslim communities. If at all, it points a finger, it aims a big fat one at the bias of the state's administration.

As with any film that has multiple stories running in parallel there are jerky cuts. But these are kept at a minimum and on the contrary some transitions are done really well. It's also nice to hear the background music come about only occasionally. That grants so much more subtlety to the entire film.

The aftermath of the riots in Gujrat is captured by the trauma that each human in the city is facing. And of course, Firaaqalso talks about the non-humans who looked upon this as an opportunity and took advantage to their fullest capacity.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Dead bodies and burnt houses shown as an aftermath, but not while the violence is in progress.
  • Language: Profanity every once in a while.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None. But rape is referred to.
  • Concept: The futility of religious fanaticism shown in a very serious tone. I doubt kids below 12-13 will be able to grasp. But it could be used to sensitize older children to the social issues and implication of extreme beliefs.

Firaaq - Movie Details

Firaaq - Trailer

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