Filmmaker and writer Sudhir Mishra’s film ‘Afwah’, which came out of the parallel cinema movement, is streaming on Netflix these days. The film had a very limited release in theaters and was shelved soon. The film could not be discussed in the form that was expected. Politics as a subject has been present in Sudhir Mishra’s cinema from the beginning. He is once again present with the same attitude and sensitivity in the film ‘Afwah’. He started his career as a writer in the eighties of the last century with ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). ‘Dharavi’ (1992) made on the life of Mumbai’s slum and ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ (2003) made in the background of Naxalbari movement and Emergency are his famous films.
Although, the detail of politics in this film is not like ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein’, but he has the courage to show the truth as the truth, which is difficult these days – not only in cinema but also in literature. The film has also taken a jibe at the literature festivals (Lit Fest), where literature is less and shows are more visible. Regarding this, Sudhir Mishra said, ‘Lit-Fest is not just Lit-Fest. He is a metaphor for all of us. We all have closed the doors, haven’t we? People are just like us. I was also there. I am also Rahab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui).
Such information or news which is not based on fact and which is not related to truth far and wide, is a rumour. It is not that misinformation in the form of news, rumours, etc. did not spread in the society earlier. Presently the political parties of the country use it for political gains. They have a whole team that is engaged in producing, broadcasting, making rumors and fake news viral. In the last decade, the emergence of social media and internet has also played a big role in spreading rumors in the society. This is the main theme of this film. The film clearly shows how rumors destroy people’s lives. Along with this, the topics of discussion in the contemporary society – communalism, love jihad, lynching etc. are covered in the film.
Mishra says, ‘Chandan (Sharib Hashmi) who was the lyncher (killer), is also the Victim (victim). In a way, Chandan itself is a film. If there is nuance (nuance) somewhere in the film, it is there. Bhumi Pednekar also has a central role in the film. However, it would have been better if the director had turned the camera towards the role of media and fake news in the investigation of ‘rumours’. Nonetheless, the film is a solid document of contemporary North Indian politics. On being asked what is the role of cinema in this era of technological revolution, Mishra says that ‘It is the work of cinema to ask questions, it is not necessary that the questions should be overtly political’. This film shakes us deeply on the level of subject matter. Political subjects were not untouched by the filmmakers associated with parallel cinema. His aim was to expand the sensibilities as well as excite the audience.