‘Kaafir’ is a Beautiful Journey of Love, Humanity & Sacrifice
Zee 5’s web series Kaafir is a historical drama that explores the inhuman situation of Pakistani prisoners in India, who are ‘mistakenly’ classified as militants due to cross-border tensions. It delves into the themes of nationality, religion, humanity, freedom and divide.
Kaafir marks the digital debut of actor Dia Mirza, who is seen alongside Uri actor Mohit Raina. Directed by Sonam Nair, Kaafir has been written by Bhavani Iyer who was also the co-writer of Alia Bhatt’s Raazi (2018). The show has 8 episodes, each of which is approximately 45 minutes long.
Kaafir is an emotional and engaging watch that has all the elements you’re looking for. Instead of focusing on the ever-controversial Indo-Pak situation, it gives a rather personal touch to the geopolitics, which is refreshing.
A Case of Mistaken Identity
Kaafir revolves around the story of a 22-year-old Pakistani woman, Kainaaz Akhtar (Dia Mirza), who due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ is found near the Poonch river on the Indian side of the border. Since Kainaaz’s body is found next to two other militants, she is assumed to be one of them and gets imprisoned for seven years. During her time in prison, she also gives birth to a daughter named Sehar.
Lawyer-turned-journalist, Vedant Rathor (Mohit Raina) spots the footage of Sehar in one of his ongoing projects. Asked by his boss to find a 'human interest' story with an emotional angle, Vedant gets to know that Sehar has been living with her mother in a prison of Kashmir. Through successive interviews in jail with Kainaaz, Vedant decodes the life of this Pakistani woman and her daughter.
Vedant tries to convince a number of lawyers to take up Kainaaz’s case, so that she and her daughter Sehar can return home to Pakistan. When no other lawyer agrees to take the case, Vedant decides to take her fight to court himself to give her the justice she deserves.
But, will Vedant be able to prove Kainaaz’s innocence in the court of law?
Kaafir can undoubtedly be considered as one of the best performances in Dia Mirza’s career. From her body language to her expressions, everything just seems so natural and effortless in her embodiment of Kainaaz. Dia makes sure that the viewer feels the emotions and struggles of Kainaaz alongside her with her dialogue delivery.
Mohit Raina also delivers a strong performance and fits in well with Vedant’s character. Even though maximum screen space has been given to Vedant, it never gets too much, as his nuanced acting ends up holding the entire narrative together. Vedant is shown as an optimistic person who believes in humanity and sees the good in people around him.
A special mention goes to the child artist, Dishita Jain, who plays the role of Sehar. Dishita’s innocence conveyed mostly through her silence does all the talking.
A Total Package
One of the highlights of the show is when Vedant reads the poem Kaafir, written by Swanand Kirkire, out aloud. The lines of the poem are guaranteed to give you a lump-in-the-throat moment. And just like this one, Kaafir is peppered with several such heart-warming lines.
The music of Kaafir also deserves a special mention. Through the background score we are able to feel the emotions of the characters better. The music does not distract us from the storyline of the show but actually enhances it.
Just like any other series set in Kashmir, the landscape shots in Kaafir are picturesque. Even then the hidden symbolism conveyed by some shots is hard to miss. For instance, freedom has visual metaphors like birds flying in the sky, while conquest, divide and hatred is depicted by boundaries such as fences or iron bars in a prison.
Never a Dull Moment
Unlike several other shows, Zee5’s Kaafir is anything but predictable. Each episode ends with a thrilling cliffhanger, leaving the viewer wanting more of what’s next. At times an episode ends with a quick montage of some of the most hard-hitting shots of the show, which is also equally effective.
The makers of Kaafir also grab the viewer’s interest by constantly going into flashbacks through Kainaaz’s thoughts. It’s through these flashbacks that we understand what ‘unforeseen circumstances’ led to Kainaaz’s imprisonment and what she went through all these years.
A part of Kaafir also brings to us one of the best executed courtroom dramas on the small screen. Bereft of the usual over the top acting, this one has short and crisp dialogues that keep you completely hooked to the legal proceedings. As Vedant tries to convince the judge of Kainaaz’s innocence through well-articulated arguments in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, one of the points that he reiterates is that just because she is a Pakistani doesn’t mean that she is a militant.
While the collective duration of the show at 8 hours could be a problem for some, I totally recommend it as binge-worthy. Minor quibble – we would have liked to see more of Dia Mirza in the first couple of episodes.
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