Films & Schedules

  • Firaaq

  • Nandita Das

Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, English
101 minutes

Production Company:
Percept Picture Company
Harindra M. Singh, Shailendra M. Singh
Shuchi Kothari, Nandita Das
Production Designer:
Gautam Sen
Ravi K. Chandran
Sreekar Prasad
Manas Choudhury
Rajat Dholakia, Piyush Kanojia
Principal Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval, Sanjay Suri, Nowaz

Friday September 0506:00PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Sunday September 0703:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1108:15PM VARSITY 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Onscreen, Nandita Das has proven herself the most soulful of actors, capable of combining emotional expressiveness with unshakable integrity. Off screen, she has maintained an ongoing commitment to social justice in India. Das brings these two worlds together in her feature debut, telling the story of one of India's great wounds with both sincerity and passion.

Conflict between Hindus and Muslims continues to flare into violence in India, and is often stoked by political interests. Firaaq begins in 2002 in the state of Gujarat, where three thousand Muslims died in communal riots. In an early scene of almost Shakespearean gravity, two Muslim men dig a mass grave for the victims. From there, the story jumps forward one month, away from the direct physical effects of the conflict to the more amorphous – but increasingly persistent – inner discord.

When Hanif and Muneera return to the modest home they had fled during the violence, they find it ransacked. With their lives shattered not simply by vandalism but by betrayal from their neighbours, Hanif seeks revenge. Elsewhere, middle-class Hindus Sanjay and Arati were untouched by the hostilities, but are met with new moral challenges. Serene older musician Khan Saheb (Naseeruddin Shah) has tried to transcend religious differences, but as a Muslim living in a Hindu neighbourhood, he now finds this stance more complicated. At the same time, Anu and Sameer, an intermarried Hindu-Muslim couple, finally face the tensions they have long suppressed.

Das interweaves these stories over one twenty-four-hour period, as characters of both faiths and from many levels of society grapple with the new, post-violence reality. Through it all, a young boy named Mohsin embarks on an urban odyssey from his refugee camp towards a better future, wherever he might find it.

Firaaq is an Urdu word that means both separation and quest. Like this courageous and essential debut film, the word acknowledges divisions while pointing a way forward to hope.

Cameron Bailey

Nandita Das was born Mumbai, India, and holds a B.A. in geography from the University of Delhi's Miranda House and an M.A. in social work from the University of Delhi's School of Social Work. She is a prominent actor who has appeared in such films as Deepa Mehta's Fire (96) and Earth (98). Firaaq (08) is her feature writing and directing debut.

Cadillac People's Choice Award