Starring Victor Bannerjee, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta, Bhavani Lee, Adil Hussain
Directed by Raj Amit Kumar(out now on Netflix)
Rating: ***(3 Stars)
It is not difficult to understand why this film was refused a censor certification in India repeatedly. In Raj Amit Kumar’s range of vision life is perpetually short brutal and unbearable. The cultural-religious intolerance that we face nowadays in every walk of life and every phase trails its way out into the “progressive” West.
Ironically the film plays a ‘Trump’ card by showing exactly what the American President claims: that the Islamic radicalization of America is now a reality. In the film a liberal Islamic scholar(played with intuitive brilliance by Victor Bannerjee) and his hapless assistant are kidnapped in New York by an uncompromising terrorist, played with unnerving ruthlessness by Bhanu Uday who proceeds to kill the Professor bit by bit.
The terrorist’s torture of the professor is among the most harrowing illustrations of visual violence we will see in modern cinema. While exposing the brutality of a wounded civilization the director Raj Amit Kumar doesn’t flinch from exposing the wounds and blood that tear across the agonized destiny of modern mankind.
The graphic gruesome violence of the Victor Bannerjee episode, nailed to a sense of urgent exposition by the brilliant camerawork(Hari Nair) and a sound design that doesn’t spare us any of the howls and moans of unbearable pain, will get to you, as it is meant to.
The narrative corners us into a sense of shuddering participation in the rites of violence. This is even truer in the Delhi story where a young lesbian daughter(Preeti Gupta) and her partner(Bhavani Lee) is subjected to the most unthinkable torture and shame by her bigoted father(Adil Hussain, stunning in his dark evil avatar).
Adil Hussain is representative of that faceless ‘majority’ which thinks of itself as upholders of Indian culture. When the signs of cultural rebellion are visible in his own home Hussain’s character , significantly a Delhi cop, takes the bull by the horns.
Honour as defined by Adil Hussain’s law enforcer’s character in Delhi, is no different from the way it is defined in New York by the Islamic terrorist.Violence is the end-result of all bigotry. The blood curdling sounds of pain of the aged professor as hammers and saws are used on him to break his mind and body, merge into cries of pain of the cop’s daughter in Delhi who is gangraped in lock-up with her father’s active consent to “normalize” her sexual preference.
Unfreedom is not an easy film to sit through. It offers no respite from the relentless violence,sexual physical and emotional , as one bullying section of society takes it upon itself to teach the other “tolerant” section a lesson or two in radicalization. The film presumes violence to be the determining tool of socio-cultural assertion.
And it is not too far off the mark.