Naseeruddin Shah, Sarika, Parzan Dastur, Corin NemecUpdated: Jan 29, 2007 13:29 IST
In the unchecked violence, a Parsi family loses its 10-year-old son, never to be traced again.
Think Godhra, think unimaginable savagery think why cinema, hasn’t yet exposed the deplorable incident effectively powerfully daringly.
At long last, Rahul Dholakia’s Parzania does that and more. Thank you Mr. Dholakia for articulating what many of us want to say but haven’t had the guts to in a medium that has virtually become a mall for the senseless and the spurious.
Never mind if the kick-off segment is somewhat shaky. At the outset, the principal players are a bit too cutesy-tootsie; the lower middle class Parsi family inhabits a world that’s as snug as a bug in a rug.
Papa (Naseeruddin Shah) is a Cinema Paradiso-like film project ionist, Mama (Sarika) is frequently at the kitchen kadhai (note the Zarathushtra portraits on the tiles). And their two kids play in their own wonderland. Huh, is this a low-budget Yash Chopra enterprise or what?
Then, the plot turns. A brilliantly photographed and action directed segment by Sham Kaushal tears the family apart.
Without becoming too graphic, Dholakia conveys the horror of it all: innocents are butchered at the altar of religious bigotry and political advantage. A TV broadcast showing the address by the state’s chief minister is bone chilling for its sheer casualness.
The Parsi family’s son (Parzan Dastur, amazingly natural) has gone missing. The fact that the family can never be the same again is depicted with deep insight. For instance, the mother cannot understand why a nine-day spell of prayer is necessary A miracle won’t bring back her son, some truth telling by the cops could... perhaps.
Meanwhile, the opposing community in a mohalla prepares for a counter attack. An American researcher (Corin Nemec) of Gandhian principles cannot understand the need for ideals anymore. He helps the couple to find at least some answers to their questions.
This track does seem to be as heavy duty as excess baggage. Also the Jack-in-the-box appearances by a pajama-kurta type, carrying a Gandhi tome, merely serve as irritating speed-breakers.
Far more stirring are the father’s hallucinatory visions, the speech by the mother before a court of inquiry and the end that doesn’t leave you with false comfort. Robert Eras’ camerawork, Arif Sheikh’s editing, Zakir Hussain’s music score and Shanaz Vahanvaty’s costume designs consistently help Dholakia in realising his film of compassion.
Of the cast, Pearl Barsiwalla as Parzan’s sister, is endearing. Naseeruddin Shah is extraordinary; he has portrayed a Parsi several times before, but once again he gives his character a new edge.
Sarika is marvellously restrained and lifelike, making you care for Parzania straight from the heart. A must-experience for those seeking cinema of some point and purpose.
First Published: Jan 29, 2007 11:38 IST