Star Cast: Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani, Waheeda Rehman, Shashank Arora, Tillotama Shome, Sara Arjun, and ensemble.
Director: Anup Singh
What’s Good: Irrfan Khan, with the very first frame, makes us realise what we are going to miss, and Golshifteh proves why she is revered. Add to it the slow burn and the spectacular frames.
What’s Bad: Maybe a more concealed ending with not so much to decode for the audience.
Loo Break: This is the last time you see Irrfan on the big screen; you do not want to miss even the tiniest bit of him.
Watch or Not?: Anup Singh is one of those very few filmmakers who continue to make cinema with allegory
Available On: In Theatres Near You.
Runtime: 199 Minutes.
In a mythological world set in the scenic but haunting Thar desert, two women, Zubeida (Rehman) and Nooran (Farahani), are the healers who can heal people stung by the scorpions by singing to them. When Aadam (Irrfan) falls for Nooran, he is ready to take the extreme step to make her fall in love with him. The extremism is the poison fate stings into their lives.
The Song of Scorpions Movie Review: Script Analysis
Anup Singh as a writer, is a man who walks on the path carved by the likes of Satyajit Ray, or Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters) in recent times. Their cinema is not only what meets the eye but much beyond. There are metaphors and perspectives that might vary from person to person. It is almost like initiating a karmic conversation about life and the battles. His last movie Qissa also starring the angelic Irrfan, was a battle of genders, the idea of being a man, and what it means to be a woman living that idea. With yet another collaboration with the star and, unfortunately the last one, Singh sets out to explore destructive love in a way no one could have thought.
Written by Anup himself, The Song Of Scorpions finds its soul in the music it uses to heal not just the one stung by the scorpion but its viewer. Lesser does one know that the mystical antidote is being eyed by a metaphorical scorpion to sting the poison of suffering in the healer’s life. Singh transports his viewers to a barren desert where sand engulfs everything that comes in its way but also makes the lives directionless in more ways than one. Before it starts sounding too philosophical, the idea here is to tell a love story, not in a bloomy way where everything is happy by the end. Instead, it is a destructive story about two people who are broken, and mending means the greys leaking out of the one who is actually evil.
The Song Of The Scorpion takes its own time to set up the landscape that serves much more than being just hauntingly beautiful in the story. It establishes two women revered by a village because of their mystical powers. A man here dies in 24 hours of being stung, but if they sing to him, he will be saved. Anup doesn’t take extra efforts in trying to make the audience believe in their powers. And it is actually the best part because he leaves no other option for you but to suspend your disbelief. And the rest is done by his amazing cast. Once he manages to do it successfully he throws in the deep darkness of his story and without any support.
This is where The Song Of Scorpions actually unfolds itself. What looks like the saviour of the situation is actually the culprit, and now a woman is left to navigate through a life-altering disaster and find herself back. While taking away poison from many lives, she somehow brought some into hers. The metaphors run deeper in the movie. Just like Scorpion’s poison kills slowly, so does the one in Nooran’s life. Does she stand to take revenge? Does she let the person walk away without confrontation? Does she find herself? Well, these are the questions only that ticket will answer.
While Anup builds a very interesting climax that blends the metaphorical and the real poison using the healer to in a way sing to both, he leaves that trajectory too prematurely. Maybe a more concealed rather than entirely open ending would have worked more.
The Song of Scorpions Movie Review: Star Performance
Our hearts break to mention this is the last time we are watching Irrfan Khan on the big screen. The legend is a chameleon and needs to validation for this craft. As Aadam he is a silent spectator for most of the first half but does the job of making his presence felt with those eyes that speak volume. His character goes through transitions, and you know how well he is with those. There is not a single flash of Khan the actor, but he blends himself in the landscape.
Golshifteh Farahani proves why she is touted. The actor as Nooran is spectacular. It isn’t an easy job to play such a niche part so far away from oneself and that too opposite Irrfan, besides him. The actor is almost unrecognisable and blends into her surrounding so well. Her mannerisms, physicality is all pitch perfect. The only place where it flickers is in the dubbing where her accent does give away a bit.
The legendary Waheeda Rehman as Zubeida is brilliant. I am not worthy of judging an actor of her calibre and position, but watching her own every frame she is in is sheer joy and a testimony of what Indian cinema in the golden age has cultivated.
The Song of Scorpions Movie Review: Direction, Music
Anup Singh as a director is in complete control of his script. One look at his product, and you know he understands his world in and out and thinks of things beyond his frame, making the entire landscape of his film look three-dimensional. The way he presents human relationships, complexities, and dynamic through frames and placement of people and things is commendable. His constant use of directionless sand dunes in the day and chilling starry nights is beautiful.
DOP Pietro Zuercher takes Anup’s vision a step ahead. Just like how Qissa was marinated in mute earthy tones with hints of shades of black, The Song Of Scorpions follows the same visuals but the setup now moves to a desert. Costume design by Divya and Nidhi Gambhir, art direction by Mayur Mulam and Production design by Rajesh Yadav are authentic and near to perfection.
The Song Of Scorpions would have been a did affair if not Beatrice Thiriet’s original score and those gem of songs by Madan Gopal Singh. The vibe they create can only be felt and not explained. The score and music for this one could be used in music schools as a bulletproof example.
The Song of Scorpions Movie Review: The Last Word
The Song Of Scorpions is a haunting drama about destructive love starring Irrfan Khan in his last movie. We are going to miss the man who made us all fall in love with cinema all over again and left us midway only to live with the never fading void.
The Song of Scorpions Trailer
The Song of Scorpions releases on 28th April, 2023.
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For more recommendations, read our Gaslight Movie Review here.