An unremittingly bleak film whose heart is as dark as some of the worst that humanity has to offer.
Whether I enjoyed Firaaq was not really a question that occurred to me as I watched it.
Certainly it’s not a film I want to watch again, and yet I thought it was brilliant.
Part of Channel 4′s recent New Voices season of Hindi films, it was also unflinchingly bleak, uncomfortable and about as far as you can get from a typical masala Bollywood film or any other Indian film for that matter.
This was to be expected. The 2008 film’s subject is the horrific 2002 Gujarat riots, during which more than 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims.
Set one month after the riots, Firaaq examines the effects – both psychological and material – of the looting, arson and murder that took place in the west Indian state.
The film tells the stories of Hindus and Muslims, rich and poor, innocent and complicit. Aarti (Deepti Naval) is unable to deal with her guilt after denying a Muslim woman shelter while Muneera (Shahana Goswami) suspects a Hindu friend of burning down her house.
Khan Saheb (Naseeruddin Shah) realises that he is in total denial of the horrors of the massacre while Anu (Tisco Chopra) and her Muslim husband Sameer (Sanjay Suri) plan to move away in order to attain closure.
All in all it was a tense, well shot and thought-provoking film (just not one I could manage to watch again).