While many of us may have heard stories about Partition and the repercussions on both sides of the border, director Anup Singh’s film Qissa gives us a glimpse of the scenario that the people had to face.
Set in the post colonial era, the story of Qissa is about Umber Singh, a Sikh who flees from his village with his family during the partition of 1947. The violence all around and the tortures that women had to suffer during this period made his craving for a male child even dominant. So much so that when his wife delivers a girl child for the fourth time, he actually raises up the child like a boy. The child Kanwar is married to a gypsy girl Neeli and trouble ensues. What happens next is both hard hitting and you will feel sympathy for the characters.
Director Anup Singh’s second film Qissa is far removed from his directorial debut “The name of a river”. Though both the films have the common theme of partition, the tales are different. The film “The name of a river” is actually homage to his idol director Ritwick Ghatak. But in Qissa the effects on partition on the minds of individuals have been dealt with beautifully. The gender equation which the director painstakingly builds up in the film is worth taking a note of. The scene where Umber Singh does not allow his wife to see the new born child properly (to determine whether it a boy or girl) and his declaration that it is a boy, hit you instantly. The craving for the male child to continue with the family legacy reaches to such an extent that he actually raises the female child as a male one and this is very significant. Tales of these kinds abound in the Partition areas and the director has portrayed this in the film. The repercussions when the truth of the identity of the child is known are drastic and will evoke pity from the audience.
Despite the hard hitting story, a few things actually caught my attention and struck me as odd. The use of the paranormal in the narrative may actually confuse some audiences. This element of magical realism may confuse the audience rather than making them appreciate the film. Moreover the screenplay drags a bit in the second half and this actually pulls down the film a bit. The director also could have shown some scenes where Kanwar actually shares some moments with her mother, Meher.
Cinematographer Sebastian Edschmid must be credited for the fantastic use of the camera. The camera angles are just too good and help to carry forward the narrative very much.
Music director Beatrice Thiriet’s music is also pleasing for the ears and blends very well with this tale.
Lastly the actors who actually had to bring alive these characters on screen had the toughest job and they pulled it with great ease and poise. Irrfan Khan as Umber Singh is so realistic that at times the audience will fell pity for him and at times also shudder at his gender biasness. Irrfan proves yet again that he is a director’s actor. Tisca Chopra as Meher also does well. It will be really good to see her in more such good roles. Tilottama as Kanwar had a really tough job of acting as the Sikh boy. And yes she acted with such confidence that many of us seated in the hall actually forgot that she is a girl. Hats off to her acting!! Rasika Duggal as Neeli is also impressive.
Qissa is a hard hitting tale which despite having cinematic elements is representative of the time that it portrays. You have watched larger than life characters on big screens. Why not go and view a slice of life on the big screens for a change? Think about it!!
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.
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