Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Firaaq

Chopstick Cinema

Chopstick Cinema

Tensions run high in the streets of Gujarat, India, where Hindu vigilantes have looted and burned the homes and businesses of their Muslim neighbors. The film zooms in on several families whose lives were affected. Muneera has just returned with her husband Hanif to the charred remains of the place they used to call home, and the husband of her best friend Jyoti, a Hindu, is suspected of the arson. Arati, the wife of Sanjay, an arrogant and disreputable Hindu businessman, is suffering a mental breakdown over the sadness and guilt she feels for the plight of the Muslims. Kahn Saheb, a venerable Muslim music teacher, wonders why no one comes for his weekly gatherings. Anu, a Hindu woman, is married to Sameer, a Muslim, who must keep his identity concealed for his own safety. Moshin, a young boy orphaned by the violence, wanders the streets of Gujarat in search of his missing father. And Hanif and Munna, two Muslims, have formed a vigilante group of their own to seek revenge for the injustices they have suffered.

These are the stories of only a few of the survivors of the volatile clash that took place in March 2002, in which more than 3,000 Muslims were killed. In a sincere effort to put a human face on the innocent victims of an often faceless conflict, without being preachy or inflammatory, Firaaq casts a powerful spotlight on the senselessness of hatred and prejudice.

Join me this week on Chopstick Cinema for a closer look at the Asian entries in the 2009 Cinequest Film Festival, which opens on Wednesday, February 25 and runs through Sunday, March 8. For further information on the film and the festival, visit the Cinequest website.

For questions or comments send e-mail to cheiter at thingsasian dot com