By Suresh Nellikode
Although Qissa (The Tale) has been set amidst the turbulent atmosphere followed by India’s partition, it carries a message of love, empathy and honor. A folk tale well set in a rustic back drop of Punjab elaborately explains the life of a normal village Sikh family and their deepest and innocent human impulses. It’s a true portrayal of the hardship faced by a family uprooted by the religious violence, accompanied at the time of India’s partition, in a new set-up keeping their honor to survive in there.
Repeated deliveries bringing in baby girls was a ‘shame’ to many a caste and tribe in ancient India, which could have been traced even now. A baby boy’s presence used to turn out to be a most sought after moment in many of the communities to keep up their ‘prestige’. The families go along with the follies of an invariably illiterate patriarch’s feudal whims. Qissa revolves around many a juncture of emotional stress that was not purposely brought forth. And the inevitable pranks of fate meet up with them at different abrupt turns. Individual ambitions go helpless when it collides with the almighty destiny, in life.
Qissa is a Punjabi story well said with a lot of visual feats. Sebastian Edschmid, a German cinematographer was lavish in his inimitable variety of presentations. Irrfan Khan, well known to the westerners even through his Life of Pi, Slum-dog Millionaire , The Namesake, The Lunchbox etc plays Umber Singh, the protagonist of the story, around whom the story revolves. Tillotama shome, Rasika Dugal and Tisca Chopra have equally contributed to the success of the movie and thus it certainly stands away from the stultified social themes we keep getting. Madhuja Mukherjee joined Anup Singh, the director, in contributing the screen play for Qissa.
Qissa, in short, carries a timeless tale, well told by Anup Singh, a Tanzanian born Indian, with European collaboration. It’s the story of how destiny takes up the upper-hand over human impulses and ambitions.
Qissa had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and brought in a NETPAC