The opening scene of Ilgar Najaf’s ‘Nar Bagi’ (Pomegranate Orchard) has a young boy reading out the letters at an eye clinic, and the doctor and the mother discovering that perhaps the boy could be color blind. Jalal (Hesen Aghayev) and his mother Sarah (Ilahe Hasanova) walk back home with this stark realization, only to find out pretty soon that the boy’s father Gabil (Semimi Farhad), who had vanished without a trace twelve years back, is finally back .
Gabil’s father Shamil (Gurban Ismayilov), eyes the return of the prodigal son with skepticism, but can hardly conceal his joy at the occasion. Gabil, who has apparently had a good stint at Russia, is warmly welcomed back into the family fold, and there is soon talk of how life could be unimaginably better off in Russia. Sarah and a reluctant Jalal agree to move out with him, and Shamil finally consents to sell off his pomegranate orchard.
‘Pomegranate Orchard’ is leisurely paced and in drawing a distinctive contrast between the urban and the rustic lives, Najaf perspicuously suggests that all is lost through a ruthless encroachment of the city men into these pastoral lands. Shamil’s fascinating orchard is more of a motif here; an emblem of arcadian bliss where peace reigns as opposed to the dimly lit streets and noisy realms of a faraway Russia.
Najaf lets the tragedy unfold in its own sweet time, and the final predicament that Gabil leaves his family in, is one that leaves the viewers distraught. Brilliant performances by the leading cast, exemplary cinematography by Ayhan Salar and a tale that slickly cuts across cultures, this is a film that strikes a real fine, wistful tune.