- Directed by Seraj us Salikin -
In 1947, after an extended period of tensions and violence, the partition of the British Indian Empire occurred, resulting in two different entities: India and Pakistan. ‘Takseem’, which translates into ‘Divide’, explores the core theme of this important event in the history and culture of the region.
The short film starts off with two friends, working together to carry a heavy case into a secluded area. It is later revealed that they had obtained it following a train robbery, and their aim is to carry it to a place where they can safely open it and take their spoils of the presumed riches which lie within. When the time comes to lift the lid and take ownership of the trunk’s content, the greed and individualistic tendencies of both men surface- they actually don’t trust each other, and only tolerated one another while they were working for the same goal. A violent confrontation between the two ensues, and while they eventually agree to share the spoils equally, the nature of the chest’s content and the consequences of their actions hit back at them.
The technical aspects of the film can warrant very little criticism. From how the conflict-torn environments are shot to how the scenes are put together, ‘Taqseem’ showcases work of a very professional nature. Likewise, the acting of the two main characters is nuanced and sufficiently convincing. Despite most likely not understanding the spoken words, the audience can feel the raw emotion and array of feelings the two men experience. Unfortunately, while the general direction of the conversations is easy to understand, more nuanced aspects are hindered by the poor quality of the English subtitles, both in grammatical and in phrasing terms. Revisiting this particular issue is one of primary importance.
While at surface level, the story of ‘Taqseem’ seems to be one about greed and mistrust, the events portrayed here also have a number of deeper, more metaphorical connotations. There is a clear parallel between the unfolding of the affairs which takes place in the small room where the two man decide to open the trunk, and the larger context referring to India’s partition. While having worked together to accomplish a task that no one man could have done, the two come to a standstill because of their divergent perceptions of what’s right and what should happen. They do eventually reach a consensus, but what comes out of this situation negatively affects both of them in equal measure
‘Taqseem’ is a very good film- both technically and artistically. Its tale is layered, with its narrow and broad perspectives blending harmoniously and offering a real treat as the end result.