Enable Javscript for better performance
The Song of Scorpions movie review: Irrfan Khan leaves you with his hypnotic charm- Cinema express

The Song of Scorpions movie review: Irrfan Khan leaves you with his hypnotic charm

Director Anup Singh’s desert fable is both haunting and comforting

Published: 28th April 2023
The Song of Scorpions movie review: Irrfan Khan leaves you with his hypnotic charm

When you see late actor Irrfan Khan for the first time on screen in his last theatrical release, he is standing on a dune, looking in the distance. Those bulging eyes are still holding in the seas. His lips are apart in a lover’s longing. He gazes at a woman in black who is walking farther and farther away from him, becoming smaller in the vast expanse of the Rajasthan desert.

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani. Waheeda Rehman, Shashank Arora

Director: Anup Singh

The woman is Nooran (a mesmerizing Golshifteh Farahani), who comes from a family of shamanic healers. A family of two: she and her grandmother Zubeidaa (Waheeda Rehman). They treat scorpion bites by singing a song which “freezes” the venom in the victim’s veins. Zubeidaa pushes Nooran to improve her singing and do riyaaz. The image of Nooran, holding a lantern, crooning to the sky in the cold desert night, is tranquilising. Director Anup Singh (Ekti Nadir Naam, 2003; Qissa, 2013) knits poetry through visuals. Nooran cuddled with her grandmother on a bed, camels walking in a straight line, villagers huddled around a fireplace, all seem like elements of folk paintings.

Aadam (Irrfan Khan), a camel trader, is Nooran’s suitor. He follows her, even bluntly asks her hand in marriage, but she refuses. Dejected, Aadam whiles away time with his friend, the philanderer Munna (Shashank Arora). Irrfan brings a hypnotic charm to the character. His whole body emotes. The way he walks, and the way he stares, opens unexplored dimensions in both Aadam and the story. Even though The Song of Scorpions treads on grim themes, Irrfan manages to sneak in his subtle humour. One day, after eyeing Nooran, he meets Munna who asks, “Baat hui? (Did you talk?)”. “Baat ki kya zarurat hai?” (What’s the need for talk?), replies Irrfan. What he says might sound plain but how he mouths the words endears him to the viewer.

Nooran gets raped by Munna. The sepia-toned Rajasthan goes grey. In a scene, Nooran runs amok, trying to find her grandmother, who mysteriously vanished after the assault. She tires and falls to her knees. The sky she sang to is heavy with black clouds. The village women ask her to go to the city since she has been “violated” now. Nooran gives in to Aadam’s advances and marries him. The Song of Scorpions is told like a fable. Munna’s dialogues are at times incomprehensible, yet soothing to the ears. At times the plot reminded me of tales of Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Detha. Although Nooran finds belonging (although short-lived) at Aadam’s house, she has lost her enchanting voice and also herself. In a haunting scene, she sits on a dune and softly takes her own name, over and over again.

Although the film’s poster has a mounting Irrfan on it, his role is rather limited. He still lingers around, sometimes materialising from the darkness like his character Roohdaar in Haider (2014), yearning for love like Haasil’s (2002) Ranvijay and holding in his demons like Musafir Khan from 7 Khoon Maaf (2011). When he asks Nooran why she never looked at him, she explains she might have missed him in the group of villagers. Irrfan replies, “Bheed mein kho jaun main aisa ko ni (I am not someone who gets lost in the crowd).”

Related Articles


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.