Skip to schedule and film credits
PLEASE NOTE: The Contemporary World Speakers screening of Qissa (originally Sept. 9), has been rescheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12 at 12:45pm (TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2). Ticket holders for the Monday screening can visit the Festival Box Office or call 416-599-8433 before 7pm on Wednesday, Sept. 11 to reserve a ticket. You will need your Sept. 9 ticket stub in order to place your reservation and pick up your new ticket.
Set amidst the ethnic cleansing and general chaos that accompanied India’s partition in 1947, this sweeping drama stars Irrfan Khan — also appearing at the Festival in The Lunchbox — as a Sikh attempting to forge a new life for his family while keeping their true identities a secret from their community.
Beautiful, timeless, and touching the deepest
of human impulses, Qissa carries the
spirit of a great folk tale. Although it's set
in a particular time and place — the Punjab
region that straddles India and Pakistan
in the years immediately after partition —
it is both deeper and broader than any
one moment. As this eerie family drama
progresses, it cuts to the heart of eternal
desires for honour, empathy, and love.
One of India's best actors, Irrfan Khan
(Life of Pi, Festival premiere The Lunchbox,
and a feature guest in this year's Mavericks
programme) plays Umber Singh, a Sikh
uprooted by the religious violence that came
with partition in 1947. He and his family
move to a safer locale, and it is here that
the story takes a remarkable turn. Having
already fathered daughters, Singh now
wants a son. When his next child is born he
celebrates his wish come true, but there is
one problem: the baby is in fact a girl.
"Qissa" is originally an Arabic word
meaning folk tale. Both the word and
the idea migrated from the Gulf into the
Punjab, still connected by the ancient oral
narratives handed down in communal
settings. Working within this tradition,
director Anup Singh gives his film both the
grand themes and elemental emotions of
classic storytelling. As Umber's daughter is
raised as a boy, the characters are propelled
with greater and greater urgency towards
their inevitable fates.
Part of a new generation of directors with
feet firmly planted in India and far beyond,
Singh has delivered a film immediately
accessible to anyone sensitive to the conflicts
that drive classic stories: fear versus
hubris, individual need versus social codes.
Qissa is a Punjabi story for the whole world.
Contemporary World Speakers
Janice Gross Stein, Director of the Munk School of
Global Affairs and a member of the Order of Canada,
is an internationally renowned expert on conflict
management. She will speak about Qissa in an
extended Q&A session following the screening.
Visit tiff.net/worldspeakers to find out more.
Special thanks to the University of Toronto's Munk
School of Global Affairs.
- Anup Singh
- Anup Singh was born in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania. He has written film reviews
for Sight & Sound, directed Indian
television, and consulted for BBC
Two. His features as director are The
Name of a River (02) and Qissa (13).
- Janice Gross Stein
Janice Gross Stein, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and member of the Order of Canada, is an internationally renowned expert on conflict management. She will speak about Qissa in a Q&A session following the screening.