Truly a different film. Such films are rare, but when done well, they have the power to really transform the way we think. “Nakkash” falls in the category of unconventional cinema. The plot is simple, yet new, and powerful. Alla Rakha (Inaamulhaq) is a gifted crafts man, and owing to his dedication towards his craft, he is lead to taking up the job of designing sculptures of gods and goddesses from another dominant religion. Since art is art, he doesn’t think much of it, however he is ostracized completely. He ends up in a situation where he is at odds with people in his own neck of the woods, as well as with members of the majority community that sees him as an intruder, no matter how hard he tries to integrate.
Getting straight to the point, “Nakkash” is a sharp, heartfelt political commentary with elements of the dark side of our society, and the nation’s rightward march. It uses a small example of secular India, of traditional Hindu-Muslim collaboration, to show how fragile this harmony is, and how its total destruction is actively coerced by a politics that needs hate to survive. So, what wins, love or hate? That is basically what the film is all about.
The story itself is unique and deserves praise. The screenplay could have been stronger, and there are many moments that don’t quite create the type of impact that it should. The film feels slightly outdates as well. While much of the film moves smoothly, a bit of the drama feels forced. But overall, it is a respectable effort. There is a liberating sense of innocence throughout the film. The filmmaker clearly understands this world very well. The world of worship and duplicity, of politicians and priests, and the uneasy alliance between politics and religion, of single parenthood and post middle age marriage. This film explores all those elements. The father son relationship, along with the relationship between the protagonist and his best friend is beautifully depicted. In fact, the relationship between the son and his father’s friend is also interesting.
The performances are commendable. The protagonist, played by Inaamulhaq, is a revelation and we can feel the artistry from within him, and embodiment of a man who sees beyond religion in a world that can’t seem to do so. His body language and dialogue delivery is very impressive, along with the chemistry with his on-screen son which evokes a sense of resentment towards the society we live in. Other pivotal characters, Sharib Hashmi (who plays the best friend) and Kumud Mihra (who plays the local priest) do complete justice to their respective parts. The child artiste in the film, too, is one of the many factors why ‘Nakkash’ works and tugs your heartstrings.
From a technical standpoint, this film is very simple and shot at real locations. The cinematography is fine. The editing is crisp. The sound design is ok. There is no scope for music in such a film, but the background score is decent.
Overall, “Nakkash” is worth a match for the unique story and as a way to support such filmmakers who dare to give us something different.