Film Review: Alif

Doshipura in UP is the setting for this Muslim social drama. Middle-aged Raza (Danish Hussain) lives with his bedridden father and extended family. He harbours a guilt – his sister Zahara (Neelima Azeem) had to flee India and settle in Pakistan. A failed marriage and years later, she comes visiting to India. Like scores of local youth, young Ali in the family is initiated into a seminary (madrasa), where the focus is on religious studies at the expense of general learning. Zahara brings pressure on her brother to get Ali admitted into a convent school. The lad’s failure to adapt to the changed environment (on Republic Day school celebration, he brings along the green madrasa flag, drawing the ire of his teacher – an over-the-top performance by
Gaurishankar Singh).

Director Imam, within the milieu of a Muslim social drama, attempts to incorporate a number of facets – the internal workings of the madrasa, the corrupt government official (Pawan Tiwari) who’s permitted Zahara to reside indefinitely in India but later doing a volte-face, etc. Veteran Neelima Azeem delivers a sub-par performance, as does Aditya Om as the maula who acts under pressure from the madrasa trustees.

Shot in Varanasi, the film has an overt religious theme and tone, nullifying the director’s sincere effort to helm a Muslim social. And with the UP CM Akhilesh Yadav launching the trailer of the film on 27th December last year, the film apparently seems to have taken a political hue too – especially with the state’s elections round the corner.

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