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Qissa Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Wednesday, February 18, 2015 • Hindi ]
Qissa Review
Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Tisca Chopra
Anup Singh
Johannes Rexin, Thierry Lenouvel, Bero Beyer

What is it all about?

A marvel of ambition, intelligence and observation veined with thought-provoking gender defining moments. Anup Singh’s ‘Qissa’ is an expertly odd depiction of obsession, partition and gender discrimination packed with a sweeping involving and haunting punch.

This NFDC co production in association with A Camino Filmverleih (Indo - German first co-production), Match Factory presentation of a Heimatfilm, Augustus Film, Cine-Sud Promotion, ZDF/Das kleine Fernsehspiel production and Arte, ‘Qissa’ delivers strongly and beautifully to its ‘reality’ with significance starved audience inviting healthy art house discussions.

The Story

Director Anup Singh post his debut ‘The Name of a River’ (2002) again sets it during the India - Pakistan partition with his co -writer Madhuja Mukherjee to tell a evolving tale of gender fusion.

Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan) victim of the partition is an inhabitant of Punjab in Pakistan - forced to vacant his birth place for the new Pakistan, Umber comes to Punjab in India and starts a new life with wife Mehar (Tisca Chopra) and his three daughters.

However even after getting on track after the trauma of partition Umber still strives for a son after having three daughters. Meher gets pregnant and delivers a baby girl but Umber in his blind obsession for a boy raises Kanwar (the fourth girl child) as a boy and even manages to convince his daughters.

In a distinctive odd case of illusion and girth, Umber shuts up all voices signaling Kanwar to be a girl that includes her periods during teenage played by Danish Akhtar by giving him wrestling lessons and provoking manhood in her.

Kanwar (Tillotama Shome) grows up as a young lad and is enjoying all the attention from her father and peers as boy including a dramatic flirty wink by a nomadic girl Neeli (Rasika Dugal). The tease leads to a welcoming win win situation for Umber when he catches them in a playful moments while searching along with Neeli’s father. Umber asks for Neeli’s hand for Kanwar believing that the low caste status of Neeli will prevent Kanwar’s true identity going public.

But Neeli turns out to be different from what Umber has imagined resulting in a gender defining haunting reincarnation of Kanwar into womanhood in this unique adage of gender identity and unfulfilled desires.

What to look out for

A rare movie with a rare ability to intervene with its formidable intelligence and observation. Anup Singh’s ‘Qissa’ is a story beautifully, brilliantly and bravely told. The artistry is undeniable as it peeks into identity crises, gender biases, desires, obsession, compassion, blind faith with an eye of hope tying the extra layers of love, lost and gain with terrific casting and incredible performance.

‘Qissa’ delivers strongly and packs some rare moments of gems for example the camaraderie between Kanwar and Neeli when the former finally comes to term with her womanhood, Kanwar’s half ‘naked’ outburst at night in front of the village on being a women. Umber invoking ‘manhood’ in the teenage Kanwar all are striking examples of illusion and determination.

Blessed with perfect casting and stand out performance where the immensely talented Irrfan Khan is exceptional managing to invoke a sort of sympathy to his unacceptable brutality, selfishness and boy obsessed chauvinisms in his character deserves all the praises.

Tisca Chopra as Meher the trusted, obedient but helpless Punjabi wife who succumbing to her husband Umber’s weird and self pleasing demands is brilliant.

Tillotama Shome as Kanwar a women torn between her father’s desire and her identity crises is outstanding. She remarkably gets the transformation with great ease resulting in a flawless performance.

Rasika Dugal as Neeli is superb and gives a beautiful support.

Danish Akhtar as the teenage Kanwar does a good job.

Technically sound. A Sebastian Edschmid camera provides the required feel. Bernd Euscher’s editing, Beatrice Thiriet music, Tim Pannen’s production design, art director Sameer Vidhate, and costume designers Divya Gambhir, Nidhi Gambhir are in sync with the theme and directors vision.

What not

Umber’s rebooting of his life in India is shown in a quickie some explanation was required. The tagline to the movie’s title "The Tale of a Lonely Ghost" was not needed it’s baffling and may invoke unnecessarily perplexity. It’s for the open minded thinking concerning audience who appreciate quality art in cinema. The normal routine b-town struck mind may not be interested.

Conclusion: A marvel of ambition, intelligence and observation NFDC’s first German collaboration ‘Qissa’ is a distinctive adage veined with thought-provoking gender defining moments and outstanding performance. A must for true connoisseur’s of art and cinema.



Rating: 4.00 / 5.0

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