Film: The Song of Scorpions
Director: Anup Singh
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani, Waheeda Rehman, Shashank Arora, Shefali Bhushan, Sara Arjun, and Kritika Pande
The film opens with a woman walking on the sand dunes of Rajasthan’s desert and then appears a man’s face, which the Indian audience yearns to see on the 70mm screen. Emotion that late Irrfan Khan’s screen presence evokes isn’t something that one can brush aside while watching this movie. The artiste reminds us of his unique individuality once again as we witness his character Aadam, a man in love, transform into a grey character, negative to be precise. Each scene is executed with such finesse that a viewer literally feels the sting as the scorpion bites and the venomous spell lasts for much longer than 24 hours (that’s how long the sting of a scorpion bite lasts).
The mystical woman, Nooran, played by Iranian-French actress Golshifteh Farahani, does not look out of place in the desert set up, though her accent at times sounds alien. It definitely does not take us away from the plot, which is a melange of folklore, myths as well as reality. As for its theme, it touches many levels, right from patriarchy to trauma to love to revenge. The story that unfolds in an obscure village in Rajasthan touches issues that have universal significance. Though the script comes with a few loose ends, it culminates in an open end, giving us the choice to make our own interpretation.
As shared by director Anup Singh in his interviews, the film was born out of a nightmare and he did pursue it the same way to keep its essence intact —dark tone, fewer dialogues and slow pace.
Anup as a director shines in bringing out a very different perspective of the story involving a rape victim as Nooran finally accepts Aadam. Creating an edge-of-a-seat experience with a slow-pace film is definitely an art only a few can master. Anup does it with élan. He brings out the best in his lead actors as they exude calmness even amidst sand storms of emotion.
The music keeps the slow narrative interesting. As in the end Aadam can hear the bewitching voice of Nooran, this last performance of Irrfan (this 2017 film didn’t release in India) will leave a lasting impact on his audience.
While Irrfan’s fans wouldn’t miss it for anything, other actors like Golshifteh Farahani, Waheeda Rehman, Shashank Arora and child-actor Sara Arjun have done a good job to make this movie a must-watch experience.