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Nakkash Has Something To Say That We Must Hear

Subhash K . Jha

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Nakkash

Starring Inaamulhaq, Sharib Hashmi, Kumud Mishra

Written  &  Directed  by Zaigham Imam

Rating: ***(3 stars)

  Varanasi has hosted many  recent films. Nakkash takes  us into the uncomfortable and ruinous realm of the communal divide.  It steps in the thorny theme  without prejudice and with complete  awareness  of going down  a road that offers no solace from the  harsh sun.  There is a liberating sense  of innocence  in  Zaigham Imam’s tale of  worship and  duplicity,  of politicians  and priests, and  the uneasy alliance  between  politics and religion, of single  parenthood and  post middleage marriage.

Above all Nakkash   is  the  tale of  friendship between two men of lowly means Allahrakha(Inaamulhaq) , a  craftsman   who  carves  figures in gold on temple walls , is a single father  who is raising  his little son with the help of his best friend Samad(Sharib Hashmi). It’s  heartwarming  how the little boy refers  to his father and  his father’s buddy as ‘Abba’ and ‘Ammi’ without any sexual  connotations  attached to the endearment.

That  the  two roles are  played by two very fine actors Inaamulhaq and  Sharib Hashmi helps  give their relationship a  heft and resonance we seldom see  in cinematic friendships. The  course of their  friendship, as it is  challenged by  devastating communal  issues, runs through the narrative  with vigorous fidelity,  found to be absent in other plot points of  this film,  for  instance  the  political goon Munna(Pawan Tiwari) is written purely as  a radical  villain with no  dimensions.

 Perhaps the director has taken on more than he can handle. The burden  of bringing  together so many issues with such thundering  ramifications  is  not  an easy task.  And  …well… who said life can be  easy? Several episodes do  appear to  lack  subtlety, a  quality is short supply when a society is  rapidly running out  of excuses  to stay together.

The  third remarkable character  and  performance in this uneven yet persuasive drama of prejudice and  redemption is the temple headpriest Vedanti, a pacifist who believes all religions  must be respected. As  played by the ever-powerful  Kumud Mishra ,  Vedanti is   a compelling force of  secularism  whose politics of communal harmony is so raw  it leaves us wounded.Mishra’s performance reminded me of  Pankaj  Kapoor in Bhavna Talwar’s   Dharma.

 Nakkash is a film with lots of  jagged edges. The  politics of communalism that  the writer-director so  forcefully derides,  tends to render the  narration shrill at  times. But the rough edges never wound  the film’s honest intentions. And  the three principal  performances stay with us for their honesty integrity and a  representational resonance that doesn’t take away from each character’s individuality.

  This is  a film that has something very  crucial to say.  We  better listen before it’s too late.

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