IFFK Special: ‘Aani Maani’ is a cleverly written drama, that evokes empathy, asks tough questions
Fahim Irshaad's 'Aani Maani' is set in Uttar Pradesh when the Yogi Adityanath government banned butchering and sale of beef.
The film opens with a god's eye view shot of a town. The camera immediately cuts to the front yard of the house a Muslim family. The director gives us a glimpse of what his intentions are within a few minutes into the movie.
Bhutto lives with his family, including his parents. The family is like any other normal household. They fight over small issues yet derive happiness from the silliest of things. They are part of a 'neighbourhood' that is filled with many such families.
Although it starts as a family drama, 'Aani Maani' is much more than that. It is political in nature and does not shy away from asking relevant questions that are often conveniently brushed under the carpet.
The film's merit is not limited to its social commentary. The writing proves to be the spine of the movie. The decision to place a 'normal family' at the heart of this movie is the reason the climax works so well. The audience is not shown the murder in the end, but it is extremely impactful as we understand how this murder would affect the family's happiness and their wellbeing.
By showing the little moments of joy that brought them together and made them happy, even in the face of adversity, the movie earns the empathy of the audience. And then, when the tragedy strikes them in the form of a man wearing a saffron scarf, we feel as though they deserved better.
Inspired by real life incidents, 'Aani Maani' succeeds in evoking thought and more importantly, empathy.