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FITRAT BY TAHER ALI BAIG

Directed by Taher Ali Baig / Reviewed by Adva Reichman

Fitrat is the kind of film that will make you question your initial thoughts and instincts. By giving you bits and pieces, it lets you create your own story in your head, but then it challenges your way of thinking and leaves you with the understanding that things aren’t always as they seem.

Like its name ‘Fitrat’, which means Spirit, the film follows the true spirit of men who at first might seem lost, but in fact are far from it. Taher Ali Baig, who both wrote and directed the film, did a marvelous job showing that. Beautifully crafted, the film takes you on a journey and makes you examine your own prejudice, fears and assumptions. In ‘Fitrat’ we follow two men’s disturbing actions, and once we think we figured them out, the director reveals their true spirit and let it shine a light about our own.

Taher Ali Baig is an Indian playwright who has marked his directorial debut in the theatre in 2014. ‘Fitrat’ is his first short film as a writer and director. His artistic choices revealed his talent and demonstrated his voice. I wasn’t sure where this is going at first, but I was constantly intrigued by the non-stop tension the film kept. The story is filled with twists and turns, stimulating characters and beautiful sites.

The locations chosen and the exceptional art design, made by Unnati Pingle, were striking and added great value to the story. That, combined with stunning and precise cinematography work, done by Eshwar Yellumahanthi, made the film greatly appealing. The composition and movements were exact, and successfully highlighted the character’s world.While I would have chosen less slo-mo shots, I greatly enjoyed watching the director and cinematographer’s artistic vision come to life on screen.

The editor, Prawin Pudi, kept the film’s pace and rhythm flowing while the music escorting the film, wrote by Nikhil Hireckr, gave it a unique edge.That contributed greatly to the atmosphere and constant build up made by the editing.

Sudhanshu Pandey, who played the lead,did a marvelous job throughout. His tenacity, stance and body language kept me on my toes.Without going in to too many details, in one of the scenes, I found myself truly worried for another character’s well-being. As the lead chases a terrified woman through allies and isolated streets, I thought the story was going to take a completely different and dark turn and focus on a women’s rights and safety. Instead, the director took me down another path and revealed the characters’ true faces and actions.

Smartly casted, the actors gave the dialogue an additional advantage that draws the viewer into their world and the issues they are facing. The director could have easily made some obvious choices, but instead he had the characters cross the line a few times, making them perfectly imperfect, and thus believable. For example, in one of the scenes, the lead character turns to violence as a way of getting what he wants. Even thought we later understand why he did what he did, it is still not the “right” way to go. But that bold choice actually made the character and scenario more believable and authentic. A similar technique was used for the second man we follow, played by the talented actor Rajit Kapur. We see his stress building and drinking worsening, and realize he’s about to go down a road of no return…

Fitrat is as much about the viewer’s journey as it is about the characters’ journey. While facing people’s prejudice and assumptions about them, they try and navigate their life to the best of their ability. The viewers get a peek inside the characters’ world, but also at their own thought process which make the film that much more interesting.

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