Kaafiron Ki Namaaz is a 2013 film, yet to be released commercially but doing its rounds in film festivals and getting rave reviews. The film festival on campus is how I got to watch it as well.
It is about the possibilities of the growth of a conversation between two people over a table in an almost dilapidated inn on a rainy evening. It is also about silently observing an action, silently participating in it…the story is narrated in a flashback mode.. the journey/travel becomes another metaphors through which the story is narrated.
We are invited to be party to a conversation of two people, a cameraman and a chaiwala .. in this setting..
The two people are strangers, a writer/journalist/reporter has come to interview an ex-army officer who has been court marshaled.
They sit around a table and begin to talk, and the subject of the talk moves from one topic to the other.. until.. it reaches a point.. It is like these conversations we may have with strangers on an overnight journey, for instance..
In addition to the two people who talk, there is a silent cameraman who shoots this conversation. Occasionally, the audience is made aware of that bit about the recording. In between the conversation, a fourth person, a chaiwala, the man in the orange court, enters. He first is the listener and then later begins to participate in the conversation. He does not take sides, he becomes that one person who by the act of listening inhabits both their sides.
The setting of the conversation, is an old inn/hostel. There is a charm of the setting of a stage. Two flights of stairs on either side of the table. To the left there is a door that leads to a bathroom. There is a radio, and music is used very well.. To the right, there is a set of four windows, stained with something that looks like blood. Beside the windows there is a shelf, one of those old wooden classy ones, with multiple drawers. In front of the shelf there is a stack of papers, drawing and writing, a dirty pile that spreads on the floor. Beside the shelf, there are some broken pieces of furniture some chairs.
The table the two men sit is round in shape. There are three chairs, those well rounded metal ones, they look delicate. Above the table there is an elaborate chandelier, one that resembles the light attached to those USHA ceiling fans, if you know what I mean.
It is all shot in sepia, but faded sepia. There are traces of colour in some of the clothes of the actors. The setting of the inn is Kashmir. The range of topics the two men speak is vast. It has qualities of the theater of the absurd, waiting for godot kind of glimpses.
It is a 2 and 1/2 hour film. poignant, the title is a metaphoric spin on the ideas of purity and impurity. And I love the font of the title..