Cast: Inaamulhaq as Allah Rakha, Sharib Hashmi as Samad, Kumud Mishra as Vedantiji
Written & Directed by: Zaigham Imam
Music: Aman Pant (Theme music)
Produced by: AB Infosoft Creation, Jalsa Pictures, Padmaja Productions
Writer-director Zaigham Imam has used the age-old issue of communal division and casteism that wracks our country even today. But he has effected them beautifully via the characterisations of the story, even though they struggle at an everyday level – as have-nots, with poverty, societal alienation, minority issues, police harassment and the lack of a voice amongst the haves.
What Nakkash is all about: Set in Varanasi, Nakkash is the sad tale of a gifted craftsman Allah Rakha Siddiqui (who works in metal embossing, engraving and sculpting) who despite belonging to the ‘lower class’ financially, is liberal-minded and tries to live his life in acceptance of all religions with no boundaries, and only a humanitarian spirit. He is a good-natured affable soul, maybe even evolved. As a single parent, he tries to bring up his son too with the same values. A man of great talent, his very talent becomes the bane of his existence because his work is primarily sought after by the Hindu temples in Kashi, Benares and around, and this does not go down too well with either his own people or the divisive Hindus. He has inherited his craft from his ancestors, all of who have been working on Hindu temple carvings since generations. His own community does not accept his son when he wants to get him educated at the local madarasa. Their discontent is apparent in the boycott. The local police frequently round him up and thrash him because he is a Muslim and he dares to defile the temples and work on their deities. His main moral support is his staunch friend, a cycle-rickshaw driver Samad. Samad has his own angst because he is unable to gather enough money to send his aging father on a Hajj trip, due to which, his father reminds him everyday, that he will rot in hell and not ascend the promised paradise. The train of events that occurs in Allah Rakha’s life, his attempts to deal with it, and the outcome form the story of Nakkash. The film is 125-minutes long.
Yay: Like we said before, the characters have been well-fleshed-out in terms of their attitudes and actions. The child actor who plays Allah’s son – Guddu is bright and blithe. In a brief appearance as his second wife (he is a widower) Sabiha, actress Gulki Joshi lends support and strength to the story. Of the supporting cast, Sharib Hashmi as Allah Rakha’s friend Samad who lands him in trouble when he steals the temple jewellery, and Rajesh Sharma as the casteist Police Inspector are noticeable. Kumud Mishra who plays Vedantiji, the truly secular Hindu priest of the temple, the man who hires him and is Allah Rakha’s staunchest supporter, is dignified and highly effective in his portrayal.
Director of Photography Asit Biswas has done some good work overall. Aman Pant’s theme music was unobtrusive and very well used.
Nay: Pawan Tiwari as the aspiring politician and Vedantijis son, is not convincing within reason. The film boasts editing by Prakash Jha, but is too slow-paced despite being brief. Inaamulhaq as Allah Rakha Siddiqui looks wretched and abject – but looking the part does not quite do it. Especially since it is heavy on thought and attitude – let’s just simply say that he is not a good actor.
CineBlitz Verdict: Despite the film’s flaws, the end is very tragic and deeply disturbing. It leaves one feeling inadequate as a society. So maybe the director achieves his end in the message conveyed. One imagines it must not have been easy to make this film for lack of backing or big names. It is an earnest effort, but sadly and truly, the film is not likely to draw crowds into theatres. It might end just like its protagonist, an unnoticed statistic.