What remains when wars end? A film series interrogates the absurdity of war and dehumanisation


Written by Tanushree Ghosh
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October 7, 2020 1:19:50 pm





After 17 years, Way Back Home is getting a world premiere on MovieSaints as half of a ‘War and Dehumanisation’ series. (Photo: MovieSaints)

In the documentary Way Back Home, Ranjan Palit’s digital camera shifts from a lady’s face to the crows on the terrace’s parapet, however these aren’t the Bhushundi crows of her childhood. Gayatri Sen (then Dasgupta) recounts how youngsters invited crows at daybreak to their houses for a nabanno (harvest) feast. Her gray hair, wrinkles and furrows, tears and half-smiles inform many tales. The birds in the skies, not like her, aren’t sure by borders. In 1947, when Mahatma Gandhi boycotted the celebration to go douse the communal fireplace in Noakhali, Dasgupta’s household nonetheless hoped they may proceed dwelling in the then Hindu-dominated river port Muladi in Barisal (now in Bangladesh). But, in 1950, a riot killing Hindus and Christians pressured many households like hers (together with her then future husband 25-year-old Sripada Sen’s household) to go away. They escaped alive with the assist of a Muslim customs officer. The 11-year-old additionally left behind her cousin Kamali didi, repudiated for loving/marrying a Muslim. Dasgupta’s life resembled Supriya Choudhury’s Nita’s in Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), offering for her household, quelling her personal needs.

Two a long time in the past, their filmmaker son Supriyo Sen took his now-late mother and father to their homeland. Once there, they shot clandestinely, the Bangladeshi authorities had modified. Sen’s spouse even hid a controversial cassette inside the garments on her physique. Ace cinematographer Palit has poetically captured Sen’s expository, observatory and philosophical quest in attempting to reconstruct a homeland from his recollections in the private documentary, which gained the National Award in 2003 whilst Doordarshan by no means telecast it. After 17 years, Way Back Home, alongside along with his different National Award-winning documentary Hope Dies Last in War (2007) and Utpal Borpujari’s Memories of a Forgotten War (2016), is getting a world premiere on MovieSaints as half of a ‘War and Dehumanisation’ series. On the menu can be the courageous Estonian black-and-white film In the Crosswind (2014), on the forcible deportation of an Estonian household to Siberia by Stalin’s Russia.

way back home The second half of Way Back Home coalesces the private with the political; with footages of the-then-fresh Godhra violence (2002). (Photo: MovieSaints)

In Way Back Home, Sen’s father tells the particular person steering the steamer on the river Padma, “you are my own, it doesn’t feel like home there (Kolkata), I can once again breathe the same air, speak in my own language/dialect.” Later, younger males collect to listen to tales and inform him sorrowfully, “Apnara amader shunnyo kore chole gechhen (With you all who left, the life has gone out of here).” “Language is lost, too, along with life and property (in forcible community displacement). Class divide was established through linguistic supremacy here (West Bengal),” says Sen, 54, who grew up in the refugee para Laha Colony in then Calcutta. “Colony” was a taboo phrase. His Bangal bhasha was reprimanded in school as “the tongue of the unlettered uncouth”, even movies confirmed caricaturish representations.

The second half of Way Back Home coalesces the private with the political; with footages of the-then-fresh Godhra violence (2002). “I wanted to show the cycle of violence, the similarity with the past/history. Noakhali’s revenge was taken in Punjab, Punjab’s in Bihar, Bihar’s in Gujarat,” says Sen.

hope dies last in a war Damayanti Tambay (then and now) in Hope Dies Last in a War. (Photo: MovieSaints)

Hope Dies Last in War speaks to the families-in-waiting of the lacking 54 Prisoners of War (Indian Army and Air Force personnel) who by no means returned from Pakistani jails. Damayanti Tambay was 22 and three-week married when, in 1971, her Flight Lieutenant husband Vijay Vasant Tambay was referred to as to obligation. A father reads the many letters his younger son Major Ashok Kumar Suri despatched, saying, “Dear Daddy, please contact the government to expedite our release.” A mom says in the film, “This way the nation is betraying its soldiers. Love for nation and nationalism cannot be one-sided. On one hand, soldiers are being glorified, but can nation be a one-sided responsibility of only the soldiers?” as Tambay provides, “Why don’t politicians send their sons to fight at the frontlines?”

In Borpujari’s Memories of a Forgotten War, a person provides a bone-chilling account, matter-of-factly, of how he noticed 4 Gurkhas who have been taking care of the bunkers have been blown to items. The Indian contribution to World War II was over two million males. The Northeast remained a forgotten theatre of war till 2013, when the British National War Museum declared the Battles of Kohima and Imphal (wherein Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hossein Onyango Obama, fought) as having turned the tide for the British in WWII by defeating the Japanese (majority of whom died owing to malaria, dysentery, lack of meals and ammunition).

“We realised the only way the subject would be taken seriously and given legitimacy was by interviewing the surviving war veterans (like the now-late Lt General JFR Jacob). Britain and Japan came from different islands to fight a war on a foreign land. Nagas and Manipuris were the collateral victims,” says Borpujari, 53, a dialog with whom gave MovieSaints COO and India head, Anupama Bose, the concept to look at 75 years of WWII’s ending with this film series.

Memories of a Forgotten War Utpal Borpujari’s Memories of a Forgotten War (2016), is getting a world premiere on MovieSaints as half of a ‘War and Dehumanisation’ series. (Photo: MovieSaints)

Borpujari and his producer Subimal Bhattacharjee went to the commemorative 70th anniversary occasions of the Kohima-Imphal battles in Japan and the UK in 2014. “Among the veterans who had come, the oldest was 96 and youngest, 91,” says Borpujari. They have been in luck to search out the wheelchair-bound British veteran soldier Roy Welland sitting along with his former adversary the Japanese Isobe Kiichi like two pals catching up after years, at Tokyo’s Yashukuni shrine.

They received entry into the barracks in the Kohima Museum in York and at Tokyo’s Renko-ji temple throughout the Shinto ceremony which gives prayers to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Defence and cybersecurity analyst Bhattacharjee, 47, recollects that exterior the Renko-ji, a 68-year-old (Cherrapunji-born) Japanese waited for them with two suitcases bearing a letter and uncommon images of his liaison-officer father Negishi san (who lived in Calcutta as a younger boy) and Netaji.

“Indians fought on both sides: on the Allied for the British, and on the Japanese, with the Indian National Army. It’s tragic that most of them were fighting their own friends,” says Borpujari.

In the Crosswind Estonian black-and-white film In the Crosswind (2014) is predicated on the forcible deportation of an Estonian household to Siberia by Stalin’s Russia. (Photo: MovieSaints)

A small ant (soldier) pulling the corpse of the greater ant (war, weight of wrongful choice, loss) is a fascinating metaphor that speaks of the futility of war in Souradeep Datta’s 2.5-minute experimental brief Colour Palette of a Soldier (2020) on MovieSaints, although not half of the series, it’s tied to it thematically. “Juddho (war),” Sen recites Bangladeshi poet Nirmalendu Goon’s verse, “maane shotru-shotru khela/Juddho maane amaar proti tomar obohela (is a game of playing enemy/War is your negligence towards me).”

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