This is a movie by Nandita Das. Her debut.
The movie is shot as an ensemble of lives of people in Gujarat post the Godhra riots. The lives of a Gujarati woman who is subjected to violence in her own home, a woman who cannot get over the violence in the city. A woman whom the riot had shaken up, she could hear people knocking her door crying for help, at her window asking to be let in. People whom a mob was chasing to slaughter. Women and children who were burnt because they belonged to another religion.
The story of a muslim couple, an auto rickshaw driver and his wife, whose house was burnt down by Hindu fundamentalists. An old muslim singer, played by Naseeruddin Shah. A man older than independent India whose love for music does not leave any room for hatred. His music survives the attacks. But he is anguished by humans killing other humans.
A muslim businessman married to a Gujarati girl, whose shop is looted and plundered by the likes of the husband of the Gujarati woman I mentioned earlier.
A little muslim boy in search of his dead father.
These are all people whose lives are changed forever. Why? Because a mob decided that people of a religion should be killed. The Hindus decided the Muslims should be killed. Muslims decided Hindus should be killed.
Why? Why? Why? Ask them why and no one can give one concrete answer. There is none! The truth is no one knows why they have killed or raped. No one understands the anger or the hatred. What is the difference between gods that have form and gods that don’t. Haven’t Hindus been taught that God is omnipotent and omnipresent? God is present in everything. If God is present in everything, how come your belief allows you to accept that God is absent in a muslim?
Politicians are using this mob mentality and what do they gain – 5 more years of power. In the name of religion? Isn’t religion a private emotion? Isn’t my religion sacred to me? Why is my religion superior or inferior to yours? Do singers persecute all people who cannot sing? Do dancers persecute all people who cannot dance? What about painters?
What is this religion for a mass? Is it not my liberation as an individual? I don’t understand.
I was not in Gujarat. But I can hear the screaming, I can smell the fear of people. Why? What are we killing each other for?
After the riots in that defeaning silence, stench of blood who is happy? No one. Everyone has been affected in some way or the other.
When I finished watching the movie, I was shivering. The movie ends on a positive note. But leaves the reality clinging to your skin. The fact that murder was committed at such a scale. Is this not genocide? How come the international forces have turned a blind eye to this? Is it not genocide? What does it take for it to be declared a genocide? Why isn’t India being condemned?
Why is the leadership in India not being condemned? The international community doesn’t care. India is profitable and therefore no one is raising any hue and cry. Is this the country I live in? Is this the world I want to bring children into.
I don’t even know what happened at Godhra. I was hardly 18 when it happened. We wanted to believe that there was reason for the violence, there was none. I only saw burning trains, screaming reporters and crying women. Who knows what the truth is? The truth is what the media paints it to be. Can one hear over the noise of the media. Its all unintelligible sounds. Its cacophony. I don’t even want to know anymore what happened. Can I live with the fact that it did happen? I have to live with the fact that it happened.
There are some who confidently will tell me who actually started it, which is the best magazine to believe. Tehelka seems to be the most reliable account. Yet. It doesn’t explain the desire to burn human flesh, to massacre, to drink blood. I don’t think anyone can answer this question.