‘Afwaah’: A wake-up call for the digital age

Published : May 05, 2023 16:55 IST - 3 MINS READ

A poster of Sudhir Mishra’s upcoming film Afwaah.

A poster of Sudhir Mishra’s upcoming film Afwaah. | Photo Credit: PTI

Sudhir Mishra’s latest film explores the dark side of social media.

In his latest film, Afwaah, Sudhir Mishra does an excellent job of highlighting the dangers of rumours and the harm they can cause. Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bhumi Pednekar and Sumeet Vyas, Afwaah deals with the evil of how a rumour can lead to destruction.

The film tells a compelling and audacious tale that examines the dark sides of modern-day India, with access to high-speed Internet, a looming environment of fear originating from the world of rumours, and power-hungry politicians.

Rahab Ahmed (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) begs for his life as he hammers on the Nehargarh fort’s enormous, traditional door from olden days. A mob of bloodthirsty people is after him. The Internet is filled with posts of him being a “love jehadi” (a derogatory term used to describe Muslim men who allegedly lure and convert Hindu women with the sole aim of establishing domination over the country). There is no time.

Also Read | Sudhir Mishra: ‘There is a sense of anger building up, creating a base for rumours to thrive in’

His chance meeting with a Hindu woman, Nivi (Bhumi Pednekar), who is trying to escape from a patriarchal setup, sets in motion a series of rumours against Rahab, manufactured by Nivi’s frustrated fiance. Rahab has ended up a hapless pawn in the hateful and false social media campaigns run by Nivi’s fiance, a politician who does not mind fanning communal tensions for political gains.

For the culturally renowned intellectuals and art lovers inside the fort, attending a fest, Rahab is a serious security threat. The management of the venue refuses to allow Rahab in, despite repeated attempts by his wife Nandita to save him.

Rahab’s cries and requests are collectively ignored by the people on the other side of the gate, who decide to leave him out to die. Eventually, Rahab is stabbed; his hope that once he reaches the fort, he will be away from the rumour that could take his life, vanishes completely.

A still from Afwaah.

A still from Afwaah. | Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

Birth of a tragedy

Rahab is a rich, foreign-returned advertising professional who has entered the Indian corporate world after spending time in the US. Having to live like a “second class citizen” in another country is what motivated him to return to his home country.

The tragedy rests in Rahab’s pronounced desires to contribute immensely to the country’s growth, cut short by the political churnings around him. He is caught in a whirlpool of communally charged campaigns simply because of his Muslim identity.

The title of the film translates to rumour in English and is a recurring motif in the story. The story revolves around the spreading of false rumours and the devastating consequences they can have.

“Afwaah is an exceptional film that explores important themes while delivering a gripping and entertaining story in the form of a political thriller.”

One of the primary strengths of the film is its script, which features witty language and clever plot turns. As the characters experience an emotional rollercoaster ride, the story keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

The pace of the movie is one of its most outstanding characteristics. By skillfully increasing the suspense throughout the narrative, Mishra prevents the audience from getting bored or complacent.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui has delivered an exceptional performance, bringing depth to his character. Bhumi Pednekar’s performance as a political heiress is equally impressive. She plays a strong woman who refuses to be controlled by the patriarchal and power-hungry men in her life (her father and fiance) and paves her own path instead in the end.

Corruption, greed, and the power of the media are a few themes addressed in the movie. Mishra skillfully incorporates these ideas into the story without being overbearing or preachy.

Afwaah is an exceptional film that explores important themes while delivering a gripping and entertaining story in the form of a political thriller. It is a must-see for anyone who loves thought-provoking cinema that has the potential to impact society.

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