chapter  9
20 Pages

Framing history, precarity, and trauma

A study of Nandita Das’s Firaaq
WithNishat Haider

This chapter situates Nandita Das’s directorial debut film Firaaq (2008) and its memorialisation of Gujarat riots (in 2002) within the ongoing debates on presentist regime of historicity, gendering of memory as well as the politics of mnemonic practices regarding the question of visual culture’s capacityto map out trauma as a structuring yet elusive subject of representation by exploring the relationship between the experiences of terror and helplessness that have caused trauma and the ways in which survivors remember. In recent decades, the question of the temporality and historicity of knowledge has resulted in the emergence of new theoretical-critical impulses, which have revolutionized the way in which the relation between history and cinema is viewed. This chapter also explores Nandita Das’s role as a filmmaker, as a witness and as a translator of trauma for deciphering the traces of a history under erasure, which underscores the possibility of what Richard Weisberg calls a ‘poethics’ of production and reception in cinema.