By Don Simpson | May 29, 2015
Director: Raj Amit Kumar
Writers: Raj Amit Kumar, Damon J. Taylor
Starring: Victor Banerjee, Adil Hussain, Bhanu Uday, Preeti Gupta, Bhavani Lee, Ankur Vikal, Seema Rahmani, Samrat Chakrabarti
Raj Amit Kumar’s Unfreedom is a remarkably ambitious film featuring two parallel narratives concurrently set in New York and New Delhi that unflinchingly contend with gender and ethnic identity. A fundamentalist Muslim, Mohammed Husain (Bhanu Uday), arrives in New York City to assassinate a peaceful Muslim academic, Fareed (Victor Banerjee); meanwhile, in New Delhi, Leela (Preeti Gupta), a closeted lesbian Muslim decides to kidnap her bisexual lover, Sakhi (Bhavani Lee), in a halfhearted attempt to marry her.
The two geographically distinct locations are chosen quite purposefully, as New York City and New Delhi — despite their newness — respectively represent the antiquated hubs for financial and religious power worldwide. In New York, Kumar challenges what it means to be Muslim; in New Dehli, Kumar takes on sexuality and gender. In both instances, Kumar focuses on the struggle for power and personal freedom, unabashedly supporting those who take a stand against injustice.
Intentionally provocative in nature, it should come as no surprise that Kumar’s film was banned by India’s national censors. Unfortunately the writing and the performances cannot keep up with the film’s overwhelmingly progressive text; the intelligent comments about prejudicious and fundamentalism just cannot save Unfreedom from the handcuffs of stilted dialog and acting. That is so incredibly disappointing because the concept of Unfreedom is so strong.