India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Firaaq: A hard-hitting debut by Nandita Das


The camera moves breathlessly through the dark alleys, following the two men as one chases the other. An old man watches flickering images on television, his face revealing myriad emotions every second. A group of men argue in a dingy, ruined shop, even as a child watches wide-eyed.

These are some images from Nandita Das’ “Firaaq” which will stay with you long after you have left the theatre. These are images that have been shot with as much passion as skill, both of which come through on screen.

Das uses the technique of an ensemble film, centred on one major incident. Nishikant Kamat used it in “Mumbai Meri Jaan”. So did the Brad Pitt-starrer “Babel”. In this case, the connection is the aftermath of the Gujarat riots.

The entire film spans over a period of 24 hours or less, and provides a glimpse into five families, so to speak, each of whom are connected one way or other to the riots of 2002.