Verdict: A one-of-its-kind biopic.
Making a religious movie comes with its own challenges. Before you know it, the film can get stuck in a whirlpool of bans, protests, and chaos. The biopic of the Guru Nanak (the first of ten Sikh gurus), is in the theatres countrywide now, after getting a clearance from the Supreme Court.
What's Nanak Shah Fakir About:
The film follows the life of the Guru from his birth, to his travels across land and sea, while spreading his message of “Ek Onkar” (the belief that there is one God). The film is narrated through the voice of the Guru’s friend, disciple, and companion, Mardana, a Muslim fakir.
The film wastes no time setting the story up and begins with the birth of Nanak. The film traces Nanak’s journey to become one with God, and how he becomes the Guru Nanak. Skilfully crafted, the audience never once sees Nanak’s face, in keeping with the tradition. Using CGI, Guru Nanak has been portrayed from the back, surrounded by a halo of divine light.
What deserves a special mention is the lack of dialogue in the film. Instead, the makers decided to convey Guru Nanak’s thoughts, emotions and ideas through shabads, which are short songs. Music plays a prominent role, with soulful hymns and Sufi melodies interspersed throughout the film. The highlights of the film remain the music and selected performances by the cast members. With sound design by Oscar winner Resul Pookutty and a soul-stirring background score by Tuomas Kantelinen, Guru Nanak comes to life with the shabads. Sung by legendary Padma awardees, Pandit Jasraj and Bhai Nirmal Singh, the songs are extremely moving. The plot is sound and traces the life of Guru Nanak as a young boy and takes us to the point where he becomes the Guru Nanak. Another aspect that is commendable is the set design, which was realistic and slightly reminiscent of Jodhaa Akbar. Arif Zakaria, Adil Hussain, and Tom Alter deliver short, but refined performances.
What Could Have Been Better:
The movie has been made convincingly, however, it is a little longer than the story requires it to be. Some moments seem drawn-out and it could have done without a few songs. While trimming it down would make the movie crisper, the length of the movie only adds to the details in his story.
Why Should You Watch This Movie:
Nanak Shah Fakir is a unique film, probably the first one that documents the work and travails of the Sikh leader, Guru Nanak. It is a must watch for the followers and faithful. It is a rare movie with a historical connect. If you want to learn more about the Sikh faith and enjoy religious stories then this movie will definitely cater to you.