WriterNandita Das, Suchi Kothari Release date5 September 2008 (2008-09-05) (TIFF)
20 March 2009 (2009-03-20) (India) Music directorRajat Dholakia, Piyush Kanojia SongsMeri Gali Mein Andhera CastNaseeruddin Shah (Khan Saheb), Tisca Chopra (Anuradha Desai), Paresh Rawal (Sanjay), Shahana Goswami (Muneera), Deepti Naval (Arati) Similar moviesNandita Das directed Firaaq and appears in Earth
Firaaq (English: Separation) is a 2008 Hindi political thriller, anthology film set one month after the 2002 violence in Gujarat, India and looks at the aftermath in its effects on the lives of everyday people. It claims to be based on "a thousand true stories". Firaaq means both separation and quest in Arabic. The film is the directorial debut of actress Nandita Das and stars Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Paresh Rawal, Sanjay Suri, Raghubir Yadav, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash and Tisca Chopra. It has largely been well received locally and internationally. Firaaq won three awards at the Asian Festival of First Films in Singapore in December 2008, the Special Prize at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival, and an award at the Kara Film Festival in Pakistan. It won two National Film Awards at 56th National Film Awards.
Firaaq follows the life of several ordinary people, some who were victims, some silent observers, and some perpetrators one month after the 2002 violence in Gujarat. It focuses on how their lives are affected and (irrevocably) changed.
The story is set over a 24-hour period, one month after a carnage that took place in Gujarat, India in 2002. This sectarian violence killed more than 900 Muslims and 300+ hindus, hundreds of thousands were made homeless and the number of women raped is still unknown.
Khan Saheb (Naseeruddin Shah) is an elderly Muslim classical vocalist, who remains blissfully optimistic of the situation happening around him. His servant, Karim Mian (Raghubir Yadav), tries to alert him to the problems the Muslim community is facing, but Khan Saheb only realises the extent of the trauma upon seeing the destruction of a shrine dedicated to the Sufi saint, Wali Gujarati. A middle-age Hindu housewife, Aarti (Deepti Naval), is traumatised because she did not help a Muslim woman being chased by a mob and finds a way to atone for her sins upon finding Mohsin, a Muslim orphan who wanders the city in search for his family. Meanwhile her husband, Sanjay (Paresh Rawal), and his brother, Deven (Dilip Joshi), try to bribe police officers to prevent Deven's arrest for gang-rape. Muneera (Shahana Goswami) and her husband Hanif (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), are a young Muslim couple who return home only to find it looted and burnt. Muneera struggles to relate to her Hindu neighbour Jyoti (Amruta Subash) in the following days, as she suspects her for taking part in the looting. Hanif, along with several other Muslim men, plan to retaliate against the violence and their helplessness by searching for a gun to exact revenge. Sameer (Sanjay Suri) Shaikh and Anuradha Desai (Tisca Chopra) are a wealthy, interreligious couple, whose store was burnt during the carnage. They decide to move to Delhi to escape the violence and Sameer comes into conflict with his wife's family over expressing his identity as a Muslim in India.
Through these characters we experience the consequences of violence that impact their inner and outer lives. Violence spares nobody. Yet in the midst of all this madness, some find it in their hearts to sing hopeful songs for better times.
Naseeruddin Shah as Jaagir Khan Saheb
Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Hanif
Paresh Rawal as Sanjay
Deepti Naval as Aarti
Sanjay Suri as Sameer Arshad Shaikh
Raghubir Yadav as Karim
Master Mohammad Samad as Mohsin
Shahana Goswami as Muneera
Amruta Subhash as Jyoti
Tisca Chopra as Anuradha Desai
Sumeet Raghavan as Dr. Subhash
Inaamulhaq as Munna
Shafi as Ghogha
Dr Sridhar Kumar as police cop
Ruhi Singh as Sakina
Nassar as Grave Digger
Dilip Joshi as Deven
Rahul Singh as Rajat, Ketaki's husband
Jasbir Thandi as Cop at Lucky's restaurant
Honey Chhaya as Bapuji
Sucheta Trivedi as Ketaki
Sakina as Ruhi
Composed by Piyush Kanojia and Rajat Dholakia, the lyrics of the songs are penned by Gulzar.
Firaaq won top honours at the Asian Festival of First Films 2008 in Singapore, where it won the awards for "Best Film", "Screenplay / Script", and "Foreign Correspondents Assn. Purple Orchid Award for Best Film". The film has won awards at other international festivals, including the Special Prize award at the International Thessaloniki Film Festival in Greece, the Special Jury Award at the International Film Festival of Kerala, and the Best Editor award for Sreekar Prasad at the Dubai International Film Festival. It won an award at the Kara Film Festival in Pakistan. Gautam Sen for "its perfect use of props and choice of colours to enhance the ambience of a post-riots" won National Film Award for Best Art Direction. A. Sreekar Prasad also won a National Film Award for "aesthetically weaving together unrelated sequences to heighten the dramatic impact" in the Best Editing category at the 56th National Film Awards.
It was released in India on 20 March 2009 and received critical acclaim. Taran Adarsh in his review of the film on Bollywood Hungama called it disturbing, powerful and thought-provoking and gave it 4.5 stars out of five.
Awards and honours
2009 Kara Film Festival
Won – Best Film
2008 Asian Festival of First Films
Won – Best Film
Won – Best Screenplay
Won – Foreign Correspondents Association Purple Orchid Award for Best Film
2009 International Film Festival of Kerala
Won – Special Jury Award
2009 International Thessaloniki Film Festival
Won – Special Prize (Everyday Life: Transcendence or Reconciliation Award)