Before Maqbool, there were only mild whispers about just a handful of good films at IFFI 2003: Marco Bellocchio's My Mother's Smile, the portrayal of an atheist's dilemmas as he witnesses the family's efforts to canonise his mother, and Wolfgang Becker's Goodbye Lenin, a gentle, humorous story of a son trying hard to keep East Germany alive for his mother who had gone into coma before the Wall fell. And, of course, the retrospective of Danish director Lars Von Trier.
However, it was after Maqbool that viewers suddenly found their voices—they now had something to talk about. Some loved it unabashedly, others couldn't forgive Bhardwaj for playing around with the dignity and depth of the Bard. Yet another set wondered how many more Mumbai gang movies they would have to bear with. And some even questioned the wisdom of perennially presenting gangsters as Muslims which was enough to provoke lead actor Irrfan into taking a crack at our troubled times. "We should move into a situation where such questions don't arise," he said.