2008. India. Directed by Nandita Das. Screenplay by Das, Shuchi Kothari. With Naseerruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Deepti Naval. Making her deeply affecting, remarkably self-assured debut as a feature film director, the celebrated actress and activist Nandita Das (star of Deepa Mehta’s Earth and Fire) puts a human face on the sectarian riots that caused thousands of deaths, most of them Muslim, in Gujurat in 2002. With a veteran ensemble cast led by Shah, Rawal, and Naval, she intricately weaves together the very different stories of ordinary people—Hindus and Muslims alike—who nonetheless share a shattering sense of loss and terror in the immediate aftermath of the carnage. Firaaq, whose title comes from an Urdu word meaning "separation" or "quest," is a powerful cry against violence, intolerance, and injustice by a filmmaker more interested in provoking questions than reinforcing stereotypes. A highlight of the 2008 Telluride Film Festival (where it was presented by Salman Rushdie) and the Toronto Film Festival. In Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati; English subtitles. 101 min.
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