Nakkash: Blurring the religious divide

After giving critically accaimed films like Dozakh in Search of Heaven and Alif, Zaigham Imam is ready to release his third project Nakkash – a story of Muslim craftsman who engraves Gods in temples of Varanasi. Imam says, Nakkash shows the real scenario of human values and the brotherhood in the country. "The film has realistic views of Hindu–Muslims relationship."

In an exclusive interview, the director throws more light on his new film. Read on...

From where did you get the inspiration for making this film?

A few years back, I saw a couple of Muslim craftsmen making absolutely stunning gold and silver engravings on the temple walls. This incident left me speechless as I was really fascinated to see the powerful Hindu-Muslim bond. It was then that I expressed my desire to make a documentary about these craftsmen. However, they denied coming on the camera because of the fear of getting into controversies and losing their job/homes.

Then I had the choice to either let the fire of my internal storyteller go off or to pursue it and show a compelling story of unity existing in two communities. The result of that mental wrestle is in front of you in the form of Nakkash.

How much time did the making of this film take?

It took almost a year for pre-production as I had to think about the designs and the way our sets would look like. Shooting in live temples would have been extremely difficult and hence a lot of effort went in the pre-production. We then shot for about 6-7 weeks. Later, it took over a year to give Nakkash the perfection it needed.

Filmmaking is a very tough job and we faced a lot of difficulties during the process. We had to make a balanced film – taking all the facts and figures as well as the feelings of the common people into consideration.

With a unique and out-of-the-box concept comes a little risk of box office performance and critical appreciation. What are your expectations from the film?

It is not about mainstream cinema or parallel cinema. I believe, there is a risk in everything that you do. But as a filmmaker, when you passionately dream about something, you don't care about the risk involved.

Having said that, I think the mainstream cinema actually has a greater risk because of the big budget. It only depends upon the box office numbers whereas movies like Nakkash always give the satisfaction of fulfilling a social responsibility (by giving a socially relevant message to the people).

Even though the box office does matter to all the producers, I feel that if our film gives a new perspective, it will be a true win for the whole team of Nakkash.

How is the title relevant to the story?

It is the story about a gifted Muslim craftsman (known as Nakkash in Urdu), who uses his talent to engrave the Gods in Hindu temples, and how the people around have contrasting opinions about his work. I felt that Nakkash would be the most relevant name for my film as people will directly relate it to the craftsmen, who put their life and hard work in shaping such beautiful places (temples).

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