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Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost

Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost Poster

Critic Rating


16 Reviews
13 Ratings
in favor

Audience Rating

2 Reviews
6 Ratings

Movie Info



Running Time




Set in post-colonial India, QISSA tells the story of Umber Singh, a Sikh, who is forced to flee his village due to ethnic cleansing at the time of partition in 1947. Umber decides to fight fate and builds a new home for his family. When Umber marries his youngest child Kanwar to Neeli, a girl of lower caste, the family is faced with the truth of their identities; where individual ambi- tions and destinies collide in a struggle with eternity.Wikipedia

Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost Reviews


Both the cinematography and the background score are nicely moody and leave you with a sense of foreboding. 'Qissa' is in the tradition of a compelling folktale that you can't shake off once you've heard it. I'm going with three out of five. I recommend that you watch the film for its unique voice.

Shubhra Gupta
Indian Express


‘Qissa’ is lambent, lovely, and completely seductive up till this point. It then tumbles into another zone, where an accident leads to a death, and the appearance of a ‘ghost’, and the tale stutters.

Rohit Vats
Hindustan Times


Qissa is ‘dastaangoi’, and much more than that. One of the best films in recent times, it’s an experience not to be forgotten easily. Your experiences in life will decide your views towards the film and vice-versa.

Suparna Sharma
Deccan Chronicle


Rarely do we get to watch films where we are constantly reading faces minutely, searching for answers, for clues. We do so here and they all remain dazzlingly ambiguous. None more so than the ever fabulous Irrfan Khan who inhabits the persona of a Sikh, a father, a husband, a soul with incredibly lyrical sagacity. Traumatised and desperate, he possesses and exudes spookiness that’s fundamental to connecting with this qissa.

Qissa is that rare cinematic treat that no genuine film lover should deprive himself/herself of.

Tushar Joshi
DNA India


Watch it for a moving story about human emotions and people grappling with changing times. Irrfan and Tisca are terrific in Qissa.

Qissa is a painful story and it is strictly meant for those who watch films for their rich content and not its entertaining quotient. In a way it is a depressing film and may not make up for a friendly watch. I thoroughly enjoyed its raw nature...


Qissa is a film about broken minds, social dysfunctions and alternate sexuality in pre-partition India. It has all the trappings of a great art film. But it’s served with nonchalant experimentation. And that is where this fable falls short.

Reviewer Profile


The complexities of Qissa are intensified through the breath-taking cinematography, certainly a strength of the film. The night shots of the moon not only carry connotations of loneliness and darkness but of hope and desire.

Subhash K Jha


There are elemental images in Qissa that will stay with you for as long as cinema exists Standing tall at the centre of the this towering achievement,illuminating every corner of director Anup Singh’s poignant parable on perverse parenthood, is Irrfan Khan. Set aside the badla that beckons at the boxoffice this week. Qissa is a killer.


Qissa is far less dense and a simpler narrative. Despite losing its way in parts, it's a thought-provoking film that looks beautiful and has some superb acting performances by Dugal, Shome, Khan and Chopra. That isn't enough to make Qissa satisfying, but it does leave you haunted by the questions that riddle Kanwar, Neeli, Mehar and Umber's stories.

Daily Bhaskar
Daily Bhaskar


Qissa is a masterpiece which should not be missed by you if you are an ardent lover of serious and parallel cinema. This technically brilliant film will definitely hit you hard turning out to be an experience which will indeed live with you forever.

India Glitz


A marvel of ambition, intelligence and observation NFDC’s first German collaboration ‘Qissa’ is a distinctive adage veined with thought-provoking gender defining moments and outstanding performance. A must for true connoisseur’s of art and cinema.


One of the most beguiling films of recent times, Qissa captivates even as it confounds.


Watch out for this Qissa and prepare to have your mind blown....an uncompromising film with sterling performances by its actors...

Qissa gets the largest measure of its strength and glory from Irrfan. Like the ghost that follows the film's gender-challenged protagonist Qissa will haunt you forever. It takes the patriarchal obsession with the male heir to a level of lucid expression where geopolitical dislocation and gender ambivalence are locked in a visceral embrace.

Audience Reviews for Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost

  • Shashwat Sisodia
    Shashwat Sisodia
    300 reviews
    Top Reviewer

    About a ‘lonely’ ghost, the birth of a nation, and the corrosive power of love, superbly directed by Anup Singh. Top-notch peformances by Irrfan, Rasika Duggal and Tillotama Shome. This is a linear tale with multiple identities and diverse layers: something that explore all the variants of love, family, relationship and quite explores the corners of the heart. No Bollywood film has done it yet. But it's title alone makes it stand out of the queue: noticed the 2 titles? Actually, Anup Singh summarizes the story's subversive-ness and its dark undertones with its depiction of the emotional supernatural: someone who is a lonely ghost- or wait- a ghost who is a lonely traveller? Be it any, Tilottama Shome as the ghost here is a total finesse. She carves the account of this man who is stringed into the horrors of identity confusions in a way that is quite remarkable. Irrfan Khan as the aristocratic Umber Singh, is as always: a find, a new character. Divya Dutta ticks the boxes of a dramatic performance, and Rasika Dugal is a find. The film is beyond a fine film: the way it deconstructs its own horrors makes it a fantabulous watch.
    I'm going with 4 out of 5.

    September 22, 19
  • Bindu Cherungath
    Bindu Cherungath
    126 reviews
    Top Reviewer

    Qissa, an Indian-German film, directed by Anup Singh in Punjabi. It is a 2013 film, first released in Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF, followed by its release in Germany in July, 2014 and now in India in Punjabi Language. Perfect timing for the release of this movie, since it resonates with what India declared this year: Beti Bachao, Desh Bachao. Do we understand the gravity of this slogan? The movie portrays the obsession of many households, where people feel that the son is the saviour of the family, as if their slogan is “Beta Jano, Vansh Bachao / Vansh Badhao”. What a sad discrimination between genders. Today also, there are many households in our country, where the birth of a boy child is celebrated whereas a girl child is not welcomed. India’s rural as well as urban lives face with this non-acceptance of diversity. Education has definitely made lot of difference, still, many people still are trapped in the very same old thought that a son is required, son is the garur (pride) of the family whereas daughter is a liability. But, don’t they forget that they are violating the balance of the universe visualized by the creator. Even the biological fact is ignored that the very female is required to give birth to a child – whether a boy or a girl. This beautiful and intriguing plot is projected in Qissa (Qissa in Punjabi means ‘folk tale’ or ‘epic legend’. Qissa could have been a masterpiece with such a strong contemplative message, but somewhere, the theme ignored certain intricacies, adopts supernatural path to tell the story which creates some confusion in the minds of the viewers? Director also leaves certain vital information for the audience to infer and assume. The backdrop is the partition which happened soon after declaration of independence. Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan) is displaced from Pakistan and he has to migrate to Punjab in India. Amidst riots and violence, which emerged due to partition, Mehar (Tisca Chopra) gives birth to her third girl child. This scene is very painful, since on one side, lots of dead bodies are lying and on the other side, a baby is born. Umber doesn’t even want to see the face of the girl child, since he wanted a boy child. Umber moves to Punjab along with Mehar and three children. Though he lost everything due to migration, he works hard and resettles himself and family very well. Mehar is again pregnant for the fourth time. Umber strongly believes that they would be blessed with a baby boy this time. But to Umber’s despair, Mehar gives birth to their fourth girl child. Umber doesn’t accept the same and declares to himself and others that it is a baby boy. Mehar tells him- “Don’t do this to the baby”. But Umber is in no mood to accept it and ensures the upbringing of the child as a boy. ‘He’ grows up as Kanwar Singh, dresses as a boy, is trained for hunting, driving truck etc.But can Umber Singh challenge God’s creation? Can Umber defy biology? What happens when the female hormones start working?

    February 21, 15