By RD Swati:
The Directorate of Film Festivals in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense organised “Independence Day Film Festival: Azadi 70 Saal – Yaad Karo Qurbaani” (70 years of independence, recalling the sacrifice) from August 12 to 18, 2016 at Siri Fort Auditorium Complex. The festival marked the celebration of the glorious 69th year of Indian independence. It screened a slew of patriotic films, released in different languages: Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi etc. The films like “Gandhi”, “Sardar”, “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose” were based on the roles played by freedom fighters; “Lagaan” portrayed situations before independence, while other stories like “Mary Kom”, “Chak De India” managed to pump nationalism successfully in the veins of the people. The cherry on the cake was that the entry to the screening was absolutely free.
Just when one would assume by the brochure that screening films like “Sardar”, “Veer Savarkar”, “Shaheed Udham Singh” was an attempt to oppose the Gandhi-Nehruvian ideologies, the opening film – “Gandhi”, shunned the misconception, making it a film festival with multiple perspectives. Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Udham Singh, Veer Savarkar and so forth were the eminent personalities who contributed to the freedom struggle, as much as Gandhi, Nehru and others did. The contributions and ideologies may have differed, where one believed in ‘Tit for Tat’, and the other feared if ‘an eye for an eye would turn the world blind’. Now, which one was appropriate back then, we can’t tell, which is ethical is also hard to decide, since, if one laid the basis of Civil Rights Movement in America, the other was praised as ‘just’ for condemning the culprits of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Which one of them fetched us freedom is also debatable – perhaps either one of them, or both, or none! Thus, the role played by these heroes can be largely appreciated as well as criticised after studying the pieces of evidence available. Also, criticism on one part does not really reduce the significance of the other.
Cinemas can be the mirrors to crucial truths. It was an incredible approach to reveal the history of Indian freedom movement to the public and relive it, yet, the motive remained incomplete as few of the regional language films did not have subtitles.
Moreover, there should have been screenings of films like “Swades” or “Nayak” too, to motivate youth participation in the nation’s development, films that restore faith in the system, and encourage the youth to stay in the country rather than go abroad. More than digging the past, the need of the hour is to shape the future.
It was a commendable effort by the organisers and I hope to see more of such initiatives. Everyone should attend such screenings, learn from the historical narration and critically analyse while making an opinion.