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A beautiful prayer

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SOCIETY Kaz Rehman captures the divine act of praying in his movie Salaat

COMMUNICATING WITH GOD A still from Kaz's new film which revolves around the subject of prayers
COMMUNICATING WITH GOD A still from Kaz's new film which revolves around the subject of prayers

P raying is one's way to reach God. These are the moments when one connects directly to God. Canadian art filmmaker Kaz Rehman has very beautifully depicted the bonding of mankind with their creator in his film “Salaat”. The film was screened recently in Delhi. Kaz, elaborating on the meaning of the film, says, “‘Salaat', which is an Arabic word for Islamic prayers, is the medium of communicating with God. The noble act brings us closer to God. It is a very sensual and very sacred phase, integral to daily life”.

The movie, revolving around the five Muslim prayers ‘Fajr' (sunrise), ‘Zohar' (mid-day), ‘Asr' (afternoon), ‘Maghrib' (sunset) and ‘Isha'(evening), weaves a breadth of imagery from the burning, decaying beauty of the land through lush forests to the stark desolation of winter and beyond.

Five different women at different places, walk, ride and work through the day, and each performs prayer or ‘Salaat' at one of the five different times.

The film begins with ‘Isha' and ends the next day at ‘Maghrib' with each prayer being performed in real time amidst stunning backgrounds. The work explores and coalesces the intersection between Islamic artistic expression, the natural elements and contemporary culture. Kaz decided to base his work on the subject as, he says, he was very much intrigued by the form of meditation and its concept, and wanted to portray its inner beauty through creative media. Shot in Hyderabad, and Pittsburg in Canada, the film took six years to complete.

“It's an art film and not a documentary. It is just an expression of my thoughts and perceptions regarding the subject. As an artiste, I worked independently; not in collaboration with any film industry or theatre group, so I was not under any pressure. The film took a great deal of time as it was shot in different countries, at different periods of time as I wanted to create perfect scenes,” explained the director, who grew up in Ontario, Canada and studied visual arts, painting, and photography.

Later on, he also studied media arts at City College (CUNY) in New York and earned his MFA.

He currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, USA where he is faculty in film/ video at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Kaz says he used women characters and unusual locations in the film to focus on the depth, and add to the intensity of the subject matter.

“This structure offers a more in-depth glimpse at the beauty, stress and contradictions of people interacting throughout the day”.His works in the past include exhibitions in photography and painting — “Flood in the Sky” (Hyderabad 2005), “Deccani Ark” (Bombay 2007) and “Salaat” (Hyderabad 2008). Kaz is currently working for the upcoming show, 'Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern and Contemporary Art from India', to be held at the San Jose Museum of Art, USA, in early 2011.

FAISAL M. NAIM

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