Friday, February 02, 2007

BIGOTRY & TRUTH!

Gujarat is one of India’s most advanced States in terms of conventional development parameters. But there is something deeply wrong in Gujarat. A film duly cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification for public exhibition is not being shown there because the movie hall owners are sacred of incurring the wrath of fundamentalists. If you recall, this is the second such instance. The first film, Fanaa was not screened to punish Aamir Khan for the support the actor provided to those being displaced by the Narmada dam. The second film, Parzania is the true story of a young Parsi boy, Azhar Mody.

On February 28, 2002, he sought refuge along with his family in the house of Ehsan Jafri, a former Member of Parliament, at a housing society in Ahmedabad. Jafri was murdered along with about 60 other members of his community that evening, despite making repeated calls to the police for help. Not so well known is the fate that befell the Mody family.

As the communal killers attacked the Jafri residence, Azhar got separated from his mother and sister and has not been seen since. He was 13, at the time. Parzania is the gut-wrenching story of this boy, and also the story of close to 2,000 people who were killed or went missing in the terror that consumed Gujarat under the stewardship of a particular Chief Minister. Five years later, his regime shows neither remorse nor respect for the rule of law – which is a good part of the reason why cinema owners in Gujarat are terrified of showing Parzania.

There are those who will argue that Parzania is ‘biased’ and does not present ‘both sides’ of the story; they may even contend it is ‘inflammatory’. Ever since the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision in the Ore Oru Gramathil case, it is settled law that the yardstick for determining whether a film is inflammatory or not is the perception of an ordinary person “with common sense and prudence and not that of an out of the ordinary or hypersensitive” person. Hypersensitive individuals are free not to see the film – or to criticize it using democratic means. But to allow threats by bigoted goons to block the exhibition of a film that has won the necessary certification is to defy the Constitution and law. There is another fundamental principle at stake here. Gujarat underwent a terrible trauma in which the communal killers not only targeted and victimized an entire section of the State’s population but also turned hundreds of thousands of ordinary people into silent bystanders or even accessories. It is these mute witnesses of genocidal evil who need to see Parzania. Only if the truth is brought out into the open can reconciliation take place in a polarized society.

***

Rahul Dholakia, the director of the movie is disappointed that his directorial venture Parzania, set against the backdrop of the 2002 Godhra riots, is not finding any takers in Gujarat. Rahul says that there may be some political undertones in his film, but it’s a human interest story at the end of the day. Rahul has not given up hope. He is confident that the film will reach Gujarat for sure. A local rights group called Drishti has started an online campaign, requesting the screening of Parzania in Gujarat. A lot of people have already signed the petition. The Mody family has also come forward making the same plea, so that they can find their lost son. Hopefully, these petitions will yield results soon. Parzania stars Naseeruddin Shah, Sarika and Raj Zutshi in lead roles. The film has been doing rounds in festivals world over and saw a mass release in India on Jan 26, 2007. It has opened at Adlabs Cinema, and I intend to see it soon!

Adapted from:

1. THE HINDU , 2nd February 2007

2. Rediff.com

4 comments:

Pratibha said...

I guess I will have to wait a while for the movie to come on DVD. But saw Iqbal and Water, very nice movies.

Anonymous said...

" Only if the truth is brought out into the open can reconciliation take place in a polarized society"

Thank you for presenting a thorough view of this film. It takes courageous people like you to come forward and let other people see that it is almost necessary to take a stand!

Anonymous said...

I think it will b years before movies in India will have the same freedom as they enjoy in the US.

Harsha

Hogwarts said...

i can recall one pic smdays back in the newspaper...the father of the missing boy was crying and was being comforted by naseeruddin shah...
tht photo is a haunting one...somewhat like the famous national geographic photo( the woman with green eyes) or the godhra incident photos...i only hope tht the boy can be traced...if he is dead then at least tht shld be confirmed, for the sake of his parents...