Lihaaf: The Quilt, a film based on celebrated late author Ismat Chugtai and her book The Quilt, is now streaming on Voot. It is the last release of July’s Voot Select Film Festival. Rahat Kazmi has directed the film and wrote the screenplay with Sonal Sehgal. The film stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sonal, Shoib Shah, Mir Sarwar, Namita Lal, Virendra Saxena, and Anushka Sen.
The plot reads, “Ismat Chughtai is summoned to court under the claims of her representation of a romance between a Begum and her masseuse being obscene. However, Ismat defends her writing and denies the charges made against her.”
– Lihaaf: The Quilt Review contains no spoilers –
Lihaaf Review: In-depth analysis
To those who are unaware, Ismat Chugtai is known for her outspoken and feminist writings during the 20th Century. She explored feminine sexuality in her writings when women weren’t even allowed to stand up for themselves. She was a bold woman who refused to give up her right to free expression and went on to become one of Urdu literature’s most prominent voices.
Tannishtha Chatterjee plays Ismat Chugtai in the Voot film Lihaaf. The scene opens with Chugtai writing on how the idea of love has changed over time and how humans feel hollow when they are denied physical touch. Trouble arrives at the writer’s home one day when she is summoned for her ‘obscene’ writing in the book Lihaaf (The Quilt).
Her daring writing of a love storey between two women in Lihaaf has offended many people. Ismat Chugtai must defend her writing in a Lahore court, where she is expected to apologise and cease writing such sexual stories. Chugtai, on the other hand, is a tough woman who will not be oppressed until the very end.
Along with the writer’s conflict, director/writer Rahat Kazmi presents us the tale of Lihaaf, a love story between a Begum (Sonal Sehgal) and her masseur Rabbo (Namita Lal). Lihaaf: The Quilt also shows us the irony of how educated male erotic writers are not okay when a woman writes sex stories.
For Lihaaf: The Quilt, Rahat Kazmi has used a plain and restrained approach. I was hoping for a powerful moment that would make me say ‘Yess, Queen’ as I watched Chatterjee’s performance as writer Ismat Chugtai. During my college days, one of my professors told us about Chugtai and what a tremendous writer she was! Because of him, I read Lihaaf and became more interested to know more about this courageous woman. In Kazmi’s film, the brave and unabashed side of the writer is absent.
The film is well-acted. The sarcastic lines spoken by Tannishtha Chatterjee are well-delivered, and I wish the film had more of them. The rest of the cast does a good job.
Lihaaf Review: Last Word
Overall, the makers could’ve done much better if the writing wasn’t weak and safe. They had a great cast and a compelling character to explore. The film isn’t bad, but there aren’t any standout moments.
Lihaaf: The Quilt is currently streaming on Voot.