Thu, 19 Mar 2009 15:12:36 GMT

'Firaaq': A graceful, glorious homage to human spirit

Nearly flawless, almost pitched perfectly to show the trauma of those who lose limbs, lives, love and faith in a communal carnage, Nandita Das' directorial debut leaves you speechless.


'Firaaq': A graceful, glorious homage to human spirit

Review

This is what cinema was always meant to be. But somewhere in its chequered course from information to entertainment, our movies began to feel like vaudeville entertainment meant more for diversion than intellectual stimulation.

'Firaaq' doesn't aim to be a cerebral treatise on communalism. Nor does it suffuse the narrative with what one may call intellectual masturbation for the sake of creating an aura of socio-political importance.

Non-judgemental and utterly bereft of stylistic affections, 'Firaaq' is a graceful and glorious homage to the human spirit. Much of its visual power comes from Ravi Chandran's articulate but restrained camera work, Sreekar Prasad's seamless but trenchant editing that leaves nothing (not even destiny) to chance, and Gautam Sen's artwork which makes the city's riot-torn colours emblematic of the red anger and the blue despair felt by the characters.

Set in those turbulent tension-filled days right after the Godhra incident in Gujarat, 'Firaaq' depicts the loss of human faith and the complete absence of the rules of civilised conduct in the day-to-day working of the administration vis-?-vis civilians.

Language, in fact, is an amazing tool of unhampered eloquence in 'Firaaq'. The characters in the riot-torn city speak in three languages Hindi, English and Gujarati. They do so without design or self-conscious purpose.

The outstanding words do not stand outside the characters' ambit of everyday expression (sometimes colloquial, otherwise poetic). Even when the narrative pauses to debate the polemics of communal politics among the characters, we the audience are one with the pause. This is excellence without the silent sound of applause. The spoken words are not designed for the camera. They are said because they have to be expressed.

'Firaaq' first and foremost deserves the highest praise for the remarkably even-pitched writing by Nandita Das and Shuchi Kothari. No character jumps out of the screen in trying to make its presence felt. The people who live in Nandita's film are the people we know in one way or another.

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