Firaaq poster

Firaaq

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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Director: Nandita Das
Running time: 90 minutes
Genres: Religion, Social
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Firaaq - Preview

- meeta, a part of the audience

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

23 reviewers(?) - 20 yays 3 so-so 0 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, AOL INDIA : ...Firaaq connects with the deep fear and empathy of the viewer and also makes one think. Strong dialogues help in this to some extent.... full review

Thumbs up, by N K Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ...Nandita Das’s movie Firaaq touches a raw nerve.... full review

Thumbs up, bigoye.com : ...leads you to a quest to find the deeper meaning that it holds. It is indeed a thought provoking film, strongly recommended.... full review

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...It doesn’t seek to instill shame in us, it doesn’t attempt to dispense insulting band-aid solutions for a seriously sick society – it just wants to be... full review

Thumbs up, by Jaya Biswas, Buzz18 : ...Despite a few flaws, one of the plus points of the film is its razor-sharp editing by Sreekar Prasad.... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...The forte of this movie; it makes a point, then moves on, leaving you to draw your own conclusions.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...It's an unsettling film, one that throws up difficult questions and demands urgent responses.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...Firaaq has its stories evolving post the riots and steers away from any political overtones making it work as a basic human drama at the common man level.... full review

Thumbs up, M TV : ...Firaaq is a noble film, an admirable debut, but you don't feel the pain.... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...A movie, which reverberates with the angst of victims trying to pick up the pieces of their life again.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...Firaaq correctly and quietly implicates us all. It is essential viewing.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now Running.com : ...Nearly flawless, almost pitched perfectly to show the trauma of those who lose limbs, lives, love and faith in a communal carnage... full review

Thumbs up, by Jahan Bakshi, Now Running.com : ...Firaaq is best viewed as an experience than a film... full review

Thumbs up, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...A thought provoking film in every respect.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ... Nandita Das translates the language of fear and its dialects through the medium of human emotions and their striking dissimilarity... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...What Das seems to be doing is asking us to evaluate our own reactions to violence, rather than pointing fingers at those who spearhead it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...It is abstract. But maybe that is the point Nandita Das is trying to make - that riots and violence do not make any sense and they leave us with many questions unanswered.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...The film rarely gloats on visuals of violence and death, yet each and every frame forewarns you of the depravity that lies within the human psyche... full review

Thumbs up, by Shoma A Chatterjee, Upper Stall : ...The most outstanding quality of Firaaq lies in that it makes its statement come alive against the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that happened much later.... full review

So-So, by Aly Kassam, Bolly Spice : ...Das manages to make you think by simply laying the situation out and allowing you to interpret it for yourself... full review

So-So, fullhyd.com : ...Firaaq is not made for mainstream audiences - it is made for critics and film festivals, and if it can find people who will pay to watch it, that's a bonus.... full review

So-So, by Vijay, Passion for Cinema : ...It has arrived too late to make the arguments it makes, as others have beaten Das to it.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

The effect of the riots on the people of a Gujrati city who belong to different age groups, strata and communities.

What Worked

  • Aarti's (Deepti Naval's) way of trying to redeem herself for not helping people during the riots and feeling a personal loss when she cannot help.
  • Shahana Goswami's accent.
  • Naseeruddin Shah's character - it was weird how he knew everything and yet was unaware and out of touch with reality.
  • The argument in Sameer Shaikh's head being voiced out through discussions between his wife and their friends.
  • The moment where Sameer says 'we' instead of 'me'
  • The locket-moment between Muneera and Jyoti.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • Lighting decisions in Munira and Hanif's house. It was a little too bright with too much light on the faces.
  • Some scenes which felt like they didn't belong - Hanif's attachment with his audio tapes, the whole dentures' scene with the child, the brief cut to a Madrassa
  • Where is Jyoti's family when she brings Muneera to her house?
  • Was the intermission not planned? It was one of the most abrupt interval breaks I've seen in a Hindi film lately.
  • The four guys being fascinated by a gun.

Nitty-Gritty

This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.

  • I loved the peephole on Naseeruddin Shah's main door - it added a nice touch to the ambience of that house.
  • Aarti offering the child a khakra. A brilliant choice of all the food that could have been offered - khakra

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 - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
90 minutes
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