I just spent the evening with my cousin and a few friends who were visiting from out of town. I then watched “Firaaq”, a movie that I recently bought when I was visiting Pakistan a few weeks ago. Have you seen it?

Acclaimed actress Nandita Das presented this directorial debut about ordinary people, from different walks of life, altered forever after the Hindu Muslim riots which ravaged Gujarat, India in 2002. The gravity of the subject is established in the opening scene when a truckload of dead bodies are dumped into a mass grave. Although the movie is slightly slow at times, I would highly reccommend for you to watch it as Das has done a good job.

“Aarti (Deepti Naval) is a housewife silently haunted by the sight of Muslim women begging for sanctuary in her house, that she ignored. Her only hope for salvation comes when she takes in an orphaned Muslim boy as a servant, pretending to her family he is Hindu. Khan Saheb (Naseeruddin Shah) is a great Muslim musician who lives in a Hindu suburb, refusing to comprehend the fractured world around him. Muneera has hidden with friends during the riots but returns to find her home gutted and trust in her neighbours destroyed. Middle class Sameer, married to a Hindu wife, is torn between fleeing town or staying and being recognised as a Muslim.” – Firaaq Review

While some live in constant fear of the next outbreak of violence, others plot revenge. With amazing control, the director explores the relationships, good and bad, that bind these two different religious communities to their homeland, and to each other, even in the face of the most terrible atrocities.

It needs to be said that some might find Firaaq one-sided because it portrays the victimization of Muslims – be it a cop telling a character, Sameer Shaikh to move to Pakistan, or a local Hindu dropping a heavy stone slab on a man’s head just because he is a Muslim.

However, one can’t deny that it’s a film made with brilliance & conscience, as reflected in a scene in which Naseer Uddin Shah’s help tells him that Muslims are being killed. Naseer then replied: Insaan Insaan ko maar raha hai, gham toh iss baat ka hai”. A statement that entreats us to see humans beyond their religions, it pretty much captures the soul of ‘Firaaq’.

If possible, try to get your hands on the dvd or I’m sure you can find it on youtube as well.



  1. Nabila · · Reply

    Must check it out…although I must admit that I OD’d a bit on this subject in college within my anthropology minor. My last semester I also got roped into TA-ing a class called “Religion and Violence” – it was quite the experience, to say the least. You said the film seemed one-sided because it showed Muslims as the victims for the most part..although people of both faiths, Hindus and Muslims, are to blame for the ongoing religious tensions…the Gujarat massacre was clearly a victimization of the latter so I think that aspect was the truth, rather than one-sidedness..just my opinion!

  2. Can’t wait to see it.

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