‘Nakkash’ review: a call for communal harmony

A scene from ‘Nakkash’

A scene from ‘Nakkash’   | Photo Credit: Instagram/inaamulhaq_official

The low-budget, Nakkash is high on both sense and sensibility

Poverty shines through in every frame of Nakkash, tattered as they appear for the lack of budget. This week’s release might be a poor film in production values but not in its aim or intent. Nakkash’s narrative may not soar high with imagination or ingenuity because of monetary constraints, but its heart, however, is rich and speaks what we need to hear and introspect about but are unlikely to.

  • Director: Zaigham Imam
  • Cast: Inaamulhaq, Sharib Hashmi, Kumud Mishra
  • Run time: 125 minutes
  • Storyline: A Muslim artisan working in a Hindu temple faces the wrath of both the communities

Allah Rakha Siddiqui (Inaamulhaq) is a craftsperson working in a Hindu temple in Varanasi. His calling alienates him from his own community. Siddiqui is regarded as kaafir (infidel), his son denied admission to the madrasa and he has to live almost in hiding even in a Muslim ghetto. The head of the temple, Vedantiji (Kumud Mishra), who is seeped equally in the spirituality of Gayatri Mantra as he is in its Urdu bhavanuvaad (adaptation), believes in rising above the divides and supports him. But the newly emerging reactionary Hindus are not entirely convinced.

It’s about kaam versus kaum (livelihood as against community) split, the fear and loneliness that comes with treading a tangential path. Director, Zaigham Imam lays bare the lives of the ordinary, lower class Muslims, their daily routines in Varanasi, Lucknow and Jaunpur. And it’s one of them – Siddiqui – who talks more sense than the learned or the privileged on either side of the religious divide. That Quran doesn’t prohibit you from working for another religion, it encourages it because it creates fellowship and fraternity. “Bhagwan kaun hai? (Who is Bhagwan)?” asks Siddiqui’s son. “Allah miyaan ke bhai (The brother of Allah),” he answers.

Imam doesn’t show religion itself at fault but the misinterpretation of it, whether it’s by the Muslims or the Hindus. Some simple lines are resonant with that pious and sacred logic. “Allah utni madad karega jitni zaroori hai (God will help in only as much is required)” because, after all, “Insaan jaisa chahega waisi banegi ye duniya (The world is shaped by the way the humans want to mould it)”. Or the fact that it’s not God who discriminates among humans, it’s human beings who do so.

Then there is the loud and clear message of keeping religion away from politics — the belief in karm ki rajneeti, not dharm ki (politics based on deeds rather than religion). Nakkash highlights the remnants of the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (syncretic culture) that is on the verge of collapse. Mahaul theek nahin hai (The atmosphere is not quite conducive) is a phrase repeated constantly. Aapsi sadbhav samapt ho raha hai (The harmony is disappearing) is another.

The tone gets too sanctimonious and earnest and often screechy, the acting veers towards the melodramatic but film’s plea to save manushyata (humaneness and humanity) is well-intentioned and hits the right spot. The timing of its release makes one wonder if it’s an unintended metaphor of our times. Or if it’s a film that is marooned and stranded because the cause it’s propagating is itself a lost one. At least for now.

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Printable version | May 23, 2020 4:16:33 PM |

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