Readers Write In #601: The Song of Scorpions: A Marriage of Myths, Mirages and Matter-Of-Facts

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By Vishnu Mahesh Sharma

In Anup Singh’s “Scorpion Song” we are introduced to the world of folklore/mythology. A woman Nooran (Golshifteh Farahani) heals a man who has been stung by a scorpion with a song. Her vocals are the antidote to scorpion venom.

While all the other onlookers look bewildered and hopeful, Adam (Irfan Khan) is shocked by Nooran’s voice. The innocence reflected in his eyes is the purity of a child who witnessed “Tamasha” by “Madari” for the first time. This innocence is further scaled up when it is contrasted with the licentiousness of Adam’s friend Munna (Shashank Arora). On a dark night, Adam wants to waste his time dreaming about Nooran, while Munna wants to indulge her true carnal pleasures.

There is a romantic atmosphere between Adam and Nuran. While chasing Nulan, Adam says: “I see you everywhere, in the water and in the dunes. But I know this is all an illusion. I want you in the flesh.” The goodness and playfulness of the dialogue doesn’t really allow you to measure how brilliantly deceptive it is. Adam never said soul or mind. This sets the scene for the next moment when Adam jokingly but forcefully grabs Nulan’s hand. The harmless, playful and flirtatious vibe gives way to acts of gentle machoism. Villagers intervene. The scene is over, but the response “Where would Adam have stopped his physical jokes if the villagers hadn’t intervened?” went unanswered.

The line “I want you in the flesh” is said in a charming folk/mythological rendition, but it comes to haunting effect in a more realistic rendition after the tragedy. . Adam marries Nuran. However, as he wished, Nuran exists only in flesh (blood and flesh) at this marriage site. Her vocal fantasies that captivated her Adam are not there, nor is her exuberant playfulness that we witnessed in that flirtatious scene.

It’s ironic that a woman whose singing was once the cure for scorpion venom found herself mentally poisoned. A man who preferred reality to illusion eventually finds that reality is very empty without illusion. This paradox of reality and illusion justifies the desert setting as a place where other mirages lose the ability to distinguish between reality and non-reality. This dichotomy is present throughout and to some extent personified.

Nulan is not as conscious of worldliness as we first met. Her grandmother, Zubeida (Wahida Rehman), firmly believes that the holiness of their voices is a gift from God. It should be used to serve humanity. Nuran, on the other hand, occasionally monetizes this divine gift. When protested by her grandmother, she gave up the money, but she didn’t give it up completely. She keeps some of it. So if Adam’s innocence is scaled up in comparison to Munna’s lust, Nuran’s practicality and worldliness appear as a sin against Zubeida’s purity and devotion.

However, this does not mean that both main characters have an abundance of one shade. Both Adam and Nuran have had enough of both white and black. This grayness of their characters is initially conveyed by the machinations of duality. Part of their character is shown only through themselves, but opposite shades are shown through Munna and Zubeida as well as their counterparts.

This dichotomy is further emphasized in the scene in which Nouran acquires his grandmother’s prized fortune through his impeccable singing, but only after losing his artistic self to a dangerous night and a lustful man. This also serves as a foreshadowing to suggest that she can only earn her ultimate prize after losing herself. This is a very important moment. Aside from cementing this ongoing theme of dichotomy, the scene culminates in a powerful trope. Zubeida really turns out to be the embodiment of purity, and she went missing after that night, indicating that Nuran’s purity went missing as well.

The gray letters are carefully drawn, not rough strokes. There is even a frame in the movie where the dunes are brown, the camels are brown, and the cloth of Adam (the camel trader) is brown. This is a world where animals and humans are indistinguishable. They have buried many motifs in the dunes. Extravagant visuals make the screenplay very realistic. Zubeida just disappears. The plot twist is revealed without any elements of shock or surprise. This is all by design.

After a critical revelation, revenge plots and conspiracies begin, but it proceeds in a routine fashion. The routineness of this script allows the deception to be executed more deeply. Nuran’s first contact with Adam is a deception for one of them, and Adam’s camaraderie with Munna is a deception for one of them. At some point in their marriage, one of Nuran and Adam hides something from the other. But at the same time, at some point, one will love the other unconditionally. A love story with such twisted, flawed, and complex characters sets the stage for a fitting climax in this world of myth, mirage, and fact.

Taking someone’s life does not necessarily mean death. Death saves, but revenge requires taking life. In this way, Adam ends up being left alone in a vast desert in search of the scorpion’s song, with the difference that this time he sees neither real people nor visions.

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