Every day, Saddiq, the protagonist of this short film, fills the back of his car with fish bought from a local market and drives around his area providing food and water for the resident population of stray cats. With as many as five hundred of them in occupancy, the endeavour is a monumental strain on both his time, energy and bank balance, but he never falters.
Saddiq, a native of India residing in the UAE, believes God has given him this mission, and that it is a task from which he cannot fail. In some ways, the story does feel like a religious parable with an interwoven moral message; a man sacrifices so much for a collection of creatures that many around him consider vermin. However, a perplexing aspect of his personality is that he is hyper-aware of the potential spiritual implications of his work, and he actively believes that his journey is a sure-fire route into an afterlife of paradise.
It’s an obsession, and it is remarkably detrimental to other aspects of his life. Back in India he has both a wife and a son, and he has never even met the latter. His father has virtually disowned him and he appears to have few friends in the UAE; yet he continues to feed the cats, and cannot consider abandoning his quest.
The filmmaker (Rafed Alharthi) muses that he wishes he had the passion displayed by Saddiq, or even half of it, but is this passion or delusion? Is he sacrificing his life for a noble cause or is he stuck in the mindset that his actions are a guaranteed route to success in the next life?
It is, of course, not for us to decide, but the film allows us to muse on these topics. It’s interesting that a documentary about feeding cats has such religious and spiritual implications, and that it clearly touches on such wider cultural significance. It would work well as part of a short film compendium.