Sunday, 19 April 2015

Nanak Shah Fakir :: Movie Review

NANAK SHAH FAKIR is exceptionally intellectual, intelligently compromised so that it does not defy Sikh sentiments, lavishly & impressively captured and spiritually well focused epic saga highly recommended to be seen on big screen. " We are not human beings having spiritual experience. we are spiritual beings having human experience ". This is what hoovers your conscious, sub conscious and super conscious state of mind after viewing this EPIC MOVIE which makes you feel like having a personal audience with Guru ji in-spite of being seated along with co-watchers. When you enter the hall, you are full of Anek Omkaar and by the time you leave, you are full of Ek Omkaar. A journey from Marjana to Mardana. You become a Co-Journeyer. Millions of salutations to the genuine intentions, spiritual efforts and salutation-al courage in giving silver screen shape to Holy Commandments of Guru Nanak Shah Fakir Ji. Bharat, surprisingly has this time and for the first time gifted a Screen to the world for which it is best and well known as Genesis of Divinity and Spirituality. Indian Film Industry, perhaps the largest producers of films in the world, has been cowardly scared to deliver spiritually rich movies. Reasons are many and the intentions are remotely genuine. After this movie, it will grow up hopefully. With billions of restrictions and taboos, it is painstakingly challenging to compose such an Epic giving rooms to many obvious shortcomings for sure. Yet a very certain unconditional appreciation for the acumen with which His Holiness has been projected becomes a must, perhaps which could have not been possible without his blessings. Simple messages are most complicated to live by and much entangled to be delivered too as well. Baba Nanak Ji miraculously lived it with such an ease as if it falls in his comfort zone. Besides, a well traveled man understands life and its purpose with very compassionate way. His learning gets un-fathomed reach and vision sky broad. If a normal person can achieve so much, it is beyond our reach to understand how much a His Holiness would have gathered and delivered. We have heard about one and only unconditional & selfless love between Lord Krishan and Radha ji, but among siblings, perhaps its first instance of its kind. Baba Nanak and Bibi Nanaki are perfect Gods for the festival of Rakhi by all means. Baba Nanak Ji is a messiah of universal equality, humanitarian compassion and religious tolerance and the film very much justifies his these teachings, the very reason that the film was widely appreciated at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, at the Sikh Film Festival at Toronto in Oct 2014 and at the Sikhlens Film Festival at Chapman University, California in Nov 2014. It is pity & ironical that his teachings have been failed by those people who have banned this movie in some parts of India.   

Story & Screenplay                                                                                 ::   The story of the movie has been penned down by Prof. Amrit Basra & Bhai Veer Singh Sadan and the screenplay of the movie has been written by Harinder Sikka . They have ably structured the screenplay in such a balanced way that the movie never sounds preachy but instead comes across as an inspiring biopic which is able to hit the right spiritual chords with the audience. It ably depicts the beliefs of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first of Sikh Gurus and his four Uddasis (Spiritual travellings) across India to spread the message of "Ik Omkar" meaning God is one. The movie begins in village Talwandi where one night, Tripta Devi wife of a village inhabitant Kalu Mehta (Anurag Arora) is undergoing labor pains and is about to deliver a baby. While the birth of Baba Nanak Ji's takes place, village landlord Rai Bular ( Adil Hussain) experiences a divine aura in his alpha state of mind. Later on, Rai Bular shares a unspoken, well understood affinity with Baba Nanak Dev Ji so much so that before his final departure he transfers all his property in Baba Nanak's name. When a PanditJi visits Kalu Mehta's house with Nanak's Kundli and listens to Rai Bular saying that he experienced a divine aura last night, he confirms that he was already aware that a divine soul is going to incarnate while drafting horoscope of Bibi Nanaki (Puneet Sikka), elder sibling of Baba Nanak. This itself proves that there was a strong divine connection between brother & sister which became evident that Nanaki used to understand each & every expressed as well as non expressed feelings of Guru Nanak Ji. Right from his childhood Baba Nanak is inclined more towards spirituality which remains a cause of worry for his father for quite a good time. When marriage of Bibi Nanaki gets fixated with a revenue official, Bhai Jai Ram (Manav Kaul), a shehnai player visits their house along with his son. When Tripta Devi inquires about the name of his son from the shehnai player, he says that since all his previous children died after taking birth hence he has named his son Marjana. Baba Nanak Ji who is listening to this conversation rechristen his name as Mardana (Arif Zakaria) i.e. one who will live forever. Mardana develops a strong affinity towards Nanak Ji which can be better explained as total samarapann at first sight and remained his eternal friend, companion and follower. Sensing Baba Nanak's inclination towards spiritualism his worried father arranges for a Government job for him at Sultanpur where Bibi Janaki resides. Soon, Bibi Janaki with the help of her husband arrange and solemnize the marriage of Nanak Ji with Sulakhani. How Nanak Ji got transformed from Nanak to Guru Nanak ? What inspired him to compose his universal aarti at Jagannath Puri temple ? What is the story behind Patther Saheb ? How 200 years old cave Rishis became disciples of his holiness & what is the height of selflessness in the form of Mardana is what forms the rest of the story.   

STARCAST                                                                                             ::           The makers have wisely selected talented ensemble starcast who have ably portrayed their respective characters convincingly, irrespective of their appearance duration. Arif Zakaria along with the technical brilliance of the movie hold the key to the film's efficacy by portraying the character of Mardana with utmost conviction. To his credit, we are not able to locate Arif Zakaria in the movie but only Mardana. Adil Hussain as Rai Bular has given a subtle, mature, true-elderly performance. His dialogue delivery is mesmerizingly thoughtful with a perfect voice modulation. Watch out for him in the scene where he is on his death bed and blessed Nirvana by Nanak Dev ji. Anurag Arora has a done a commendable job while portraying the character of Kalu Mehta. His concerns for his son were genuinely reflected, his worries were so well connected with that of father's regarding stability of his son that we could walk in his shoes. Puneet Sikka as Bibi Nanaki has given an earnest performance. She has been able to portray the other end of spiritual umbilical chord of Guru Nanak Ji effectively. Manav Kaul who got noticed earlier for his performances in "Kai Po Che" & "Citylights" gets to play the character of Bhai Jai Ram who is brother-in-law of Guru Nanak Dev ji. Manav, once again ably manages to make his presence felt in the movie. After a long hiatus, we get to see Tom Alter on-screen in this movie portraying the character of Daulat Khan, the ruler of Sultanpur. It was difficult to recognize him because of the prosthetic make-up Only a dignified & seasoned actor like Tom Alter could give justice to a complicated character of Daulat Khan, who on one hand is sick, tired and looks cruel but on the other hand is just, understanding and well balanced ruler. 

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                                 ::        The musical soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by Uttam Singh is as pristine as it can be. The soulful Shabads that he has composed have been sung by vocal chords of Padma awardees Pandit Jasraj & Bhai Nirmal Singh. The background score that has been composed by eminent Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen & conducted by music maestro A.R.Rahman is spellbinding and provides further impetus to the visuals. Due regard for this must be given to Resul Pookutty who is the sound designer as well as co-producer of the movie. Plenty of the credit for the tonal correctness of the narrative must go to the cinematographer of the movie i.e. A.K.Bir who has captured stunning visuals that look as pious as the theme of the movie. His camera has not only captured the locales of Jagannath Puri, Tibet and the Himalayas with utmost finesse but his usage of color palettes as per the requirement of the shots is praiseworthy. The movie has been edited by Archit Rastogi who has kept the runtime of the movie to 145 minutes. The editing is precise as despite the languid pace of the movie, your yearning for the movie never fades away. Kudos to producer Harinder Singh Sikka for not only being brave enough to make a movie on Baba Nanak ji despite knowing its repercussions but also making it on such a magnanimous scale that every frame of the movie is enriched. The makers have done an outstanding job by keeping a fine balance while helming this tale so that it does not defy Sikh sentiments. It is not an easy job to direct a biopic where you cannot actually show the face of main protagonist but with his finesse & able assistance from technical crew, director has made a cult biopic with a mix of myriad emotions that will invoke a range of sentiments in your heart while watching this movie. There are no exaggerated dramatic flourishes here, no playing to the galleries. Unlike other biopics & period films which have conveniently and lazily restored to antiques, artifacts and vintage songs, Nanak Shah Fakir simply and effortlessly emerges from the character and his milieu. 

CONCLUSION                                                                                              ::     Since God has no religion, Nanak Shah Fakir is also not confined to single path-faith, hence a must watch for all humans who wish to understand the true meaning of love and humanity. Also a must watch for all those who wish to understand how India looked like & suffered during the said tenure.  

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