Shown in the 5th London Indian Film Festival 2014, at BFI Southbank, this film opened to a Houseful hall.

Irrfan Khan in 'Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost.'

Irrfan Khan in ‘Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost.’

I confess that I don’t watch that many Indian films in the cinema, reason? It’s just that they don’t appeal to me but still I had to watch this because of two reasons. First, that it was Irfan Khan in the lead role, and second, it was about the partition of 1947. The last Indian film that I watched in the cinema was Ritesh Batra’s “Lunchbox”, starring ofcourse, Irfan Khan. I loved everything about that film and most importantly the performance of Irfan Khan. This was why this film “Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost” attracted me. Then the partition of 1947, when Pakistan emerged as a separate independent country breaking India into two, where once in the years of the Mughal Empire, people of all race and creed lived harmoniously. Not much was shown about the partition except that the Sikhs were moving from their homeland which was in the Pakistani territory of Punjab into the Indian territory, and a few instances where a little bit of hatred towards Muslims was shown lying dead.

Director Anup singh

Director Anup singh


As being the UK Premier, the Director Anup Singh came on stage to introduce this film. He said that the film showed the partition of 1947, and during that partition, there were some 5000 refugees, and this is the story of one of the refugees. Explaining what the word ‘Qissa’ means to the English audience, he said that in Punjab there is a tradition of telling stories of the past, which in other words are the folklore or the tales of the old times. Punjab was where in very old times the Buddhists had settled, the Guru Nanak also lived and the Sufis of Islam also flourished, thus making Punjab a magical and spiritual land.

Tillotama Shome

Tillotama Shome

The movie opened to a Houseful audience. Keeping in mind that it wasn’t a film from the mainstream, which usually has a lot of music, songs, dances and action, it got to show us something different. The film had a slow pace, which made it easy to follow and understand. The language was pure Punjabi, which even for me as being a Punjabi, was a bit hard to understand. But still I managed to understand much of it; otherwise, the English subtitles were a lot of help. The performances of all the actors were near to perfection. Tillotama Shome playing the role of the ‘Son’ gave a good performance by showing herself as a man, which she nearly would have been only if she had moustache and a beard. Rasika Dugal, the love interest of the ‘Son’, also gave a good performance. Both Tillotama Shome and Rasika Dugal are new faces to me. I’ve never seen their previous work, but judging from this film, I believe that they still have to go a long way in giving a satisfying performance.

 It’s a film that is very near to reality, but the magical and spiritual elements in it make it very unique.

Rasika Dugal

Rasika Dugal

There are parts in the film which became a bit hard to follow, and then there are sudden twists in the story which completely changes the flow of the film for the audience, but keeping in mind that this film, according to Director Anup Singh is folklore, these sudden twists then become quite accepting. There was one thing which was quite surprising for me, and to be honest, these kinds of things don’t suit Bollywood at all, may they be in mainstream films or in independent art films, and that was nudity. I hope Bollywood does not go that way, but I think, for this film, the body exposure parts were a necessity.

If you like watching films that are different and are very close to the magical and romantic stories which are very similar to the stories of the Tales of the One Thousand and One Nights, then this film is for you.

Director: Anup Singh


Writer: Anup Singh

Producer: Johannes RexinBero BeyerNina Lath GuptaThierry LenouvelRakesh MehraSahab NarainVikramjit RoyShivani Saran

Cinematographer: Sebastian Edschmid

Starring: Irrfan KhanTillotama ShomeRasika Dugal

Genre: Drama, Fantasy

Country: India

Lanuage: Punjabi

Release Date:  8th September, 2013

Run Time: 109 Min

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