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Flashback: The Horrors Of The Gujarat Riots Brought To Life In ‘Parzania’

By Nada Faruqi:

Far, far away from this world stained in blood and splintered by riot – is an ethereal cosmo where rivers are made of kheer, rooftops are made of halwa and mountains made of ice-cream. Parzania, an imaginative construct of two kids- Dilshaad (Pearl Barsiwala) and Parzan (Parzan Dastur), in the background of riot-affected Gujarat, is a world of all hues; where people do not kill each other over religion.


With all the emotive resonance and raw innocence that a prizewinning child blends in her smile, Dilshad writes 9 in her cupboard. “Mummy! Where’s Parzan?” she goes about and clings to her mother who hardly has an answer. It’s the final day of the fast that Cyrus Pithawala, her father, has observed in search of the answer they all are seeking wildly: Where’s Parzan?

Naseeruddin Shah, with his usual baritone and splendid acting, plays the father figure opposite Sarika as the all-so-caring mother. Based on the real story of a boy called Azhar Mody, Parzania captures on silver screen the struggles of a Parsi family for their lost son- Parzan. The movie is all about the tenderness of familial relations, the struggle that entails the loss of a family member, the idea of India from the lens of a foreigner researcher (Corin Nemec) and the human selfishness in a standard nutshell – as long as it’s not our matter, the smile shall never falter!

The journey into unknown places, away from the usual home and hearth, searching for someone that might as well not exist- this meticulously mended tragedy by Rahul Dholakia quite sums up the struggles of riot-affected Gujarat post-2002

True, the riot-affected regions lay a heavy impact on the minds of their people, in a way so fascinating that relations are sewn and strewn, built and destroyed and rebuilt, time and again. Gujarat, ever since 2002, has redefined the psychological equation between blood-relatives, and between self-incorporated relations that are valued on account of their nature of surreal beauty. Parzania takes us on a detour. From the heterogeneity of secular India, a compound that crackles with smiles and laughter, to the relief camps. From close-to-the-heart friendships to shutting doors. From cinema to austerity. Families that once shared a common ground for gossip and children who played together, are made to know the ‘difference’. Allan, who is a researcher from abroad, sighs: “How religion can both be the cause and the solution of the problem!”

The never-ending quest that lies at the heart of searching for someone that might, in all probability, be dead, is nerve-wrecking. Dilshad, being a child, is brimming with hope, notwithstanding the fact that grief has snatched her childhood too early. Cyrus resorts to a nine-day fast before he sees a dreaded dream of his son being pounced upon by vultures. Shernaz fights her battle behind closed doors.

The longings, the looming sadness, the mere thought of such dreary vacuum that must have hit the lives of common people in Gujarat has compelled people like me to choose sides. The role of the so-called Law Enforcement Agencies being bizarre, can we question and call for re-configuration of the modern-day democracy? Or is it too much to ask for?

Parzania was more of an experience than a watch-it-forget-it flick. As someone pursuing Law, this movie inspires me – to never stay mute, to never underestimate the power of individual dissent, to not only believe what is right but also to say it out loud, to seek justice, to denounce everything that is wrong and never to be okay with selective dispensation of the word ‘justice’, and to never ever hold the power of Truth onto my own self.

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  1. ismail

    Nice article. Please visit my blog too.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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