Film Review: ‘Wajib’ — a father and son bond on a road trip

A still from the film 'Wajib.' (Supplied)
Updated 11 February 2019
0

Film Review: ‘Wajib’ — a father and son bond on a road trip

  • The latest drama from Palestinian writer-director Annemarie Jacir “Wajib,” is set over the course of a single day and shows the relationship between father and son
  • Played by real-life father and son Mohammed and Saleh Bakri, the two characters — Abu and Shadi — drive around Nazareth delivering wedding invitations

CHENNAI: As many films have illustrated, male-female relationships are difficult. But those between fathers and sons can be equally problematic. Two closely linked men can be extremely touchy about their independence. We have seen this, too, in films, and the latest drama from Palestinian writer-director Annemarie Jacir (“Salt of This Sea,” “When I Saw You”), “Wajib,” is a fascinating study, set over the course of a single day, of how a father and his son develop a camaraderie.

Played by real-life father and son Mohammed and Saleh Bakri, the two characters — Abu and Shadi — drive around Nazareth on a winter’s day delivering invitations to the wedding of Abu’s daughter, Amal (Maria Zreik). (Palestinian custom requires that the father and son personally visit each relative and friend to deliver the cards.) As they travel in a ramshackle Volvo, the two men have time to bicker and provoke each other. There is also subtle manipulation from both.

What Jacir does with a flourish is to fill her plot with layers, and as the car trundles along, revelations pop out. We are let into one secret of how retired schoolteacher Abu had to make compromises to keep his position in an Israeli-run school. As a teenager, Shadi embraced more radical politics and saw his father as a sell-out.

Cut to the present, and we learn that Shadi’s girlfriend back in Italy, where he currently works as an architect, has a father who is known to be a Palestinian activist and intellectual — “a PLO leader,” according to the conservative Abu, who sees such people as dangerous terrorists, while Shadi is proud of this association.

But the anger and hurt between the father and son go beyond political -isms.

Jacir’s 96-minute movie is not just all work and no play. The tension is often lightened with a touch of the comic. The writing is tight and precise; a little too antiseptic perhaps, but the multitude of characters from a variety of backgrounds — both Muslim and Christian — and their neatly observed mannerisms give the narrative great energy. The style is judicious and simple, and the often-sparse frames, in which Abu and Shadi are alone reflect a relationship that is fighting to emerge from years of silence and pain. Paced like a road movie, “Wajib” really comes alive at the climax. Not to be missed.

“Wajib” is showing at Cinema Akil in Dubai from Feb. 22 – 28.


REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

Updated 17 August 2019
0

REVIEW: Second season of Sacred Games mirrors the ills of today's India

CHENNAI: The first season of “Sacred Games” last year was a hit, and the second edition, which began streaming on Netflix on Aug. 15, may be even more so.

The eight episodes explore some of India's most pressing current issues such as a nuclear threat, terrorism and inter-religious animosity dating back to the country's 1947 partition. It. It also addresses how religious men can indulge in the most unholy of acts, including helping corrupt politicians.

Some of the greatest films have had conflict and war as their backdrop: “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur” and “Garam Hawa,” to mention a few. The second season of “Sacred Games” also unfolds in such a scenario, with terrorism and inter-communal disharmony having a rippling effect on the nation.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur,” “Black Friday”) and Neeraj Ghaywan (“Masaan,” which premiered at Cannes in 2015), the web series, based on Vikram Chandra's 2006 novel, unfolds with Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) escaping from prison and finding himself in Mombasa. He has been carted there by an agent of India's

Research and Analysis Wing, Kusum Devi Yadav (Amruta Subhash), who forces him to help find Shahid Khan (Ranvir Shorey), the mastermind behind bomb blasts and terror attacks.

In Mumbai, police inspector Sartaj (Saif Ali Khan) has just two weeks to save the city from a nuclear attack, which Gaitonde had warned him about. Both men love Mumbai and do not want it to be destroyed. But religious extremist Khanna Guruji (Pankaj Tripathi) and his chief disciple Batya Ableman (Kalki Koechlin) believe that only such a catastrophic destruction can help cleanse society and bring a cleaner, saner new order.

A narrative of deceit, betrayal, love and longing, the second season has a plodding start, but picks up steam from the fourth episode, with Sartaj and his men racing against time to find a nuclear time bomb that could wipe out Mumbai. Crude dialogue and a constant doomsday atmosphere could have been avoided, but riveting performances by the lead pair – Khan and Siddiqui (though he is getting typecast in this kind of role) – and nail-biting thrills make this Netflix original dramatically captivating.