Review Hindi

Cinestaan Curates: The Miniaturist Of Junagadh is a tender tale set in a tumultuous time

Release Date: 24 Sep 2021 / 29min


Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

The short film transports us to a bygone era, to tell the poignant tale of a miniaturist and his family.

Kaushal Oza’s short film starring Naseeruddin Shah, Rasika Dugal, Raj Arjun, Padmavati Rao and Uday Chandra captures the fate of a miniature artist who is forced to leave his home. Based on a short story by Stefan Zweig, the film conveys the predicament of people who fled in the wake of Partition, leaving their homes and a lifetime of memories behind.

The Miniaturist Of Junagadh is set in the year of India’s partition, 1947, when, like countless families, an old miniature artist, Husyn Naqqash (Shah), is forced to sell his ancestral home in the erstwhile principality and move to Pakistan along with his family. Naqqash is losing his vision and being in dire financial straits, the family sells its home to Kishorilal (Arjun), an opportunistic man who has decided to buy the house along with the family’s belongings.

When he learns that Naqqash was a famous miniature artist, Kishorilal smells money and wants to make sure the collection of miniature paintings is part of the financial deal with the family. An air of mystery hangs in the air and Kishorilal is quick to pick up on it. However, the revelation is very different from what he expects. What he learns makes him reassess the things that he considers valuable.

Steeped in the old-world charm of a bygone era, the film is shot beautifully with intricate visuals that conjure up the world of the miniaturist. Shot almost entirely within the home, the production design transports us to the historical setting. From the music to the cinematography, editing and dialogues, it is evident that Oza has painstakingly calibrated the world that his characters inhabit.

Although the film’s pace is a bit slow and it relies heavily on dialogues to reveal the circumstances that have led the family to this juncture; the stupendous performances of Naseeruddin Shah, Rasika Dugal and Raj Arjun bring to life the poignant fate of the miniaturist and the women in the household. We feel the sense of resignation and loss of the family as its members spend their final night in their home.

Imbuing each gesture and dialogue with meaning, the actors bring forth the emotions of their characters with nuance. Shah’s performance is par excellence as the artist who wears his blindness like a badge of honour and whose quiet rebellion offers him a chance at hope. Raj Arjun, too, is impressive as the man caught unawares and transformed by this family whom he had looked down upon.

Oza’s previous short films Vaishnav Jan Toh (2009) and Afterglow (2013) have won National awards.

The Miniaturist Of Junagadh was screened at the New York Indian Film Festival in June and is being screened at the Bengaluru International Short Film Festival, on till 5 September. Click here to register and watch.

 

Related topics

Cinestaan Curates Bengaluru International Short Film Festival New York Indian Film Festival

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