Hamare Baarah has great intentions for every religion

The 11-strong family of Annu Kapoor in Hamare Baarah, with his new wife pregnant for the sixth time. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

A basic fact: this film is NOT anti-Islam or anti-Muslim. It is about women’s empowerment and the warped definition of Islam that is perpetuated by vested interests and is counter-productive even for the followers of that religion.

Mansoor Ali Khan Sanjari (Annu Kapoor) is a qawwal and a fanatic follower of his religion, Islam. To perpetuate his religion, he will stop at nothing, closing all doors to progress, modernity, and finally thanks to his upbringing, humanity.

He has lost his wife during childbirth and has married a young woman, Rukhsar (Ankita Dwivedi) just to father more kids. He has eleven of them and Rukhsar, who is like an object for him, is now pregnant with what will be his 12th offspring.

In all this, he cannot actually give even a decent education to his children. Convinced that modern education is all about drugs and skin show, he sends them to madrassas. He is completely closed to progressive thought, even if it destroys the marriage of his son, Shahnawaz (Paritosh Tripathi), whose wife and kid leave him when he dictates that they will not send the child to a proper school and the equally-programmed son agrees. He even stops one of his daughters, Zareen (Aditi Dhiman), who wants to be a singer and is selected for a reality show. However, he is unaware that another daughter, Shabnam (Zana Khan) is writing verse and mailing them to him under the same name as an unknown entity. His son, Shoaib (Rahul Bagga) rebels from the beginning and is treated with cold disdain as he becomes a rickshaw driver.

But things come to a head when he insists on the 12th child and the doctor tells his daughter, Alfia (Aditi Bhatpahri) that Rukhsar might die from a ruptured uterus. Unable to see any other way of saving her stepmom, who is more of a friend, Alfia files a court case against her father for terminating the pregnancy.

What happens next forms the crux of the film, and frankly, though the film talks about Islam and its warped interpretation by vested interests who influence simple Muslims, such a story can well apply to any other religion whose dogmas, as preached and practiced by hardliners, are against evolution and progress. The story is about Islam and thus it examines how progressive Muslims either fight rabid fanaticism, or choose to ignore it and go about an enlightened life.

Every character in this film, save a gynecologist and the judge in court, is a Muslim. These include the fiery Aafreen (Ashwini Kalsekar) who represents Alfia in court, and the character portrayed by Manoj Joshi, who represents Manzoor even if he himself has got his (only) two kids to follow higher studies and climb up in life.

The film addresses several key aspects of fanaticism, a couple of them peculiar to Islam, but serves as an eye-opener in general. The sequence where a progressive man defies the oratory of a moulvi (Abhimanyu Singh) trying to provoke simple people is a highlight.

Kamal Chandra directs well but should have eliminated a good bit of illogic in Rajan Agarwal’s script. The way things go in the final 20-plus minutes of this 148-minute movie not only needlessly complicates things but in the final analysis emerges as pointless, made with the only intention to show that even a near-dictator like Manzoor can realize the error of his ways.

The background score and songs (at least one written and composed by Annu Kapoor himself) are nice. Technically good, I liked the straight, non-gimmicky narration.

Annu Kapoor rules in the film as a near-predator kind of (in)human being who gives a new dimension to obduracy. Ashwini Kalsekar (whose outburst in fromnt of her husband is outstanding) puts in a phenomenal turn. Manoj Joshi hams and his accented Hindi as he is made to recite legal and Urdu words jars. The rest of the principal cast is good.

If we can look at evils in Hindu society in so many Indian films (the latest being Laapataa Ladies) and the West at wrongs in Christianity, and a nation like Pakistan can oppose fanaticism in their own films like Khuda Kay Liye and Bol, surely Indian Muslims can see Hamare Baarah with an open mind and maybe learn some truths from it.

Radhika Films’ & NewTech Media Entertainment’s Hamare Baarah  Produced by: Ravi S Gupta, Birender Bhagat, Sanjay Nagpal &  Sheo Balak Singh  Directed by: Kamal Chandra  Written by: Rajan Agarwal  Music: Annu Kapoor, Bishakh Jyoti and other  Starring: Annu Kapoor, Ashwini Kalsekar, Rahul Bagga, Paritosh Tripathi, Ankita Dwivedi, Aditi Bhatpahri, Manoj Joshi, Zana Khan, Aditi Dhiman, Udayvir Singh Yadav, Ishlin Prasad, Sharad Rah Singh, Kritika, Sagun Mihsra, Parth Samthan, Abhimanyu Singh & others





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