Tuesday, November 25, 2014

16th Madurai Film Festival 2014: Homage to Shubradeep Chakravorthy

16th Madurai Film Festival 2014

Homage : Films by Shubhradeep Chakravorty

"Two hours and twenty seven minutes long En Dino Muzaffarnagar by Shubhradeep Chakravorty & Meera Chaudhary is going to be recorded in the history as the first documentary film banned under prime minister Modi. Gagging order came on 30th June. Today we applied in Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for redressal of our grievances. We will not go down without a fight. Lets hope for the best…" 

- Shubhradeep Chakravorty on his facebook page on 30th July 2014.

Shubhradeep bid bye to all of us, as a result of a fatal brain hemorrhage that started its trail on 11th August 2014 and finally took his life at 7am on the 25th August 2014 at Delhi's AIIMS hospital.

Hope in the midst of crisis and courage amidst fear were the hallmark of the political activist, Shubhradeep - the journalist who turned to documentary filmmaking after Gujarat's one-sided communal carnage in 2002. His first documentary, 'Godhra Tak: The Terror Trail', screening at Ahmedabad in 2003 was attacked by the VHP who threatened him to quit film making. This incident only affirmed his resolve to get into full-time documentary film making. All his completed documentaries engaged broadly with the issues of communalism and fascism propagated by the right wing Hindutwa forces. Much before the very acclaimed feature film 'Shahid' hit the theatres, Shubradeep had documented the state involvement in the killing of the defense lawyer Shahid Azmi in terror related cases ('Out of Court Settlement') and his other documentary ('After the Storm') looked into the lives of the innocent Muslim youth who were jailed for years under terror cases, laws and later acquitted.

His life and work actually demonstrated a terrific taste for dissent and clarity about the role of a biased state. He honestly engaged in the journey for humanity's struggle for justice and peace. His associations with various social movements and human rights initiatives brought a different angle to the medium in which issues can be articulated. 

Shubhradeep and his partner Meera's new film En Dino Muzaffarnagar did not get the Censor Certificate and in the days that led to the fatal brain hemorrhage, Shubhradeep was overworked about the indirect ban by the Modi regime. It is evident from his midnight posts on social media that he was worked up. The state decision to curb his democratic right to dissent, in his case through his films, had definitely affected him very badly. The unfortunate outcome is that they managed to get more than what they thought… They got the film and the Director at one go...

As it stands, 'En Dino Muzaffarnagar', cannot be screened in public spaces. 
As comrades and co-travellers of Shubhradeep, his life and films should be celebrated in the days to come, by actually occupying the spaces which the right wing fascists are grabbing from all of us.
Shubhradeep Filmography

His first independent documentary film was Godhra Tak: the Terror Trail (2003, 62 mins, English). It is an investigative documentation of the barbaric incident of 27 Feb 2002, in which coach S6 of Sabermati Express was burnt down at Godhra railway station in Gujarat, India. Fifty-nine passengers including several Karsevaks died in that fire. The film tries to find out what actually happened at Godhra railway station on that day and how far the allegation of a conspiracy is true. This incident was used to start anti Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002. U C Banerjee commsission was said to be set up after the then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav convinced with the findings of the film.

In 2008 he finished his  second documentary film 'Encountered on Saffron Agenda?'( 2008, 94mins , English) a film based on investigative documentation of encounters of Sameer Khan Pathan (22 October, 2002), Sadik Jamal (13 January, 2003), Ishrat Jahan-Javed Seikh (16 June, 2004) and Shorabuddin Seikh (26 November, 2005), all happened in Gujarat. Those killed in them were said to have on a mission to kill the Chief Minister Narendra Modi who had allegedly organised the 2002 genocide of Muslims in the state after Godhra train burning incident. Film tries to find out the truth behind Police stories and politics of encounters in Gujarat. The present investigations in the following cases are on the same lines as shown in the documentary
His latest documentary was ‘En dino muzaffarnagar’ Co directed with his wife Meera Chaudhary in 2014. It’s a 2hr 27 mins feature length film and was made in the period of 8-9 months after the riots in UP.

In 2012 he came out with third documentary film 'Out of Court Settlement' ( 2012, 66 mins, English) It is based on the tales of killings, beating up and intimidation of several defence lawyers across the countries that were appearing in terror related cases. This documentary tries to put forth the ensuing danger to rule of law in the country because of such incidents. There are cases of murders of renowned lawyers Shahid Azmi and Naushad Kashmji.

The forth one is 'After the Storm' ( 2012, 68 mins, English) and is based on stories of seven former terror accused who secured acquittal through various law courts in past few years. The film narrates their ordeal and miseries and shed light on their current fight for survival. This film actually built the ground for the debate and dialogue on concerned issue. This  film actually provided a  much needed storm to the issue of protection of Muslim youth as it has become a movement of sort and many positive judgements have come up on the same by the Supreme Court judges and Home ministry.

Synopsis of En Dino Muzaffarnagar (2014,2 hr 27 mins, English)

Muzaffarnagar is barely 128 kms away from India’s national capital Delhi and had faced riots first time in its history. Interestingly, the phenomenon of riots in villages is completely new for the whole region. This riot was anti-Muslim and more than 60 people died and 42000 people displaced in the process.

Once known as City of Love, Muzaffarnagar is now known for riots that took place there on September, 2013.  Documentary ‘En Dino Muzaffarnagar ‘investigates the situation before, during and after the riots in great details to portray how Muzaffarnagar faced riots last year, how the politics of hate is being engineered by the politicians for their own benefit and how the divide created by the riots has set the tone of the elections at that time.

The story unfolds with the graphic depiction of events starting with the introduction of the culture of agrarian society of western Uttar Pradesh. The film presents Ragini, folk songs that are thoughtful observation of the politics of Delhi, Plight of Girls and farmers of the region. It engages audience with its unique conversational style of Interviews. And sounds like the novels of Leo Tolstoy which are characterized by numerous characters , plots and subplots woven together in a manner that while the main plot moves forward you keep forgetting smaller characters.

En Dino Muzaffarnagar is a story of grief, hate and fear that shows how local power politics turns the pages of the history to rewrite it. It’s a tale of how the loss of the grief stricken farmers can’t be justified with few vested interests playing the power games Film shows that during the riots good sense prevailed too. There are positive stories in the film where Hindu-Muslim harmony and brotherhood is at best. It is thought provoking to see what they did during the riots to save human lives and what their outlook towards the whole situation is.

For the first time this documentary unravels the so called ‘Love Jehad’ angle used as a tool in inciting hate crimes among communities. . A minor incident of eve teasing sparked the riot and everybody including the bureaucracy, security agencies, the police administration, political parties and its leadership, State and the Central Governments were caught unaware. Actually the preparation for a large-scale violent eruption was ongoing for quite some time. In UP, which is considered as the most important state for parliamentary elections because it contributes 80 seats

On 16th of May 2014, results of Indian parliamentary elections were declared. Rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies swept the polls. BJP won 73 seats out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh including Muzaffarnagar and Kairana (Shamli) seats. Narendra Modi became 15th Prime Minister of India with one out of four BJP Members of Parliament coming from Uttar Pradesh. Divide created by the Muzaffarnagar riots paid off.

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