Another storm brewing – over a documentary

26 Aug. Some moving images can trouble you, can’t they? That is what has been proved from the time the first viewers ‘Arrival of a train at Ciotat Station’ (Lumiere Brothers, 1895, Paris) were terrified.

Not that the ‘movies’ themselves had anything to scare. But people thought terribly of it. And they ran away.

Things have not changed a bit. If at all, they have worsened! Even the biggest right wing organisation in India (with over a few lakh “volunteers”) and its progeny gets scared of a few minutes of moving images!

The latest is a least known documentary film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai by Nakul Singh Sawhney has created quite a bit of stir.

The documentary is based on the worst communal riots engineered in Western Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state of Northern Province (it has over 20 million population!). It happened in Aug-Sept 2013, under the very nose of the present young man who sits in Chief Minister’s chair. The right wing had their communal agenda clear-cut, and it lived by that. The inexperienced, too young, known-as-his-father’s-puppet Akhilesh Yadav just did not do anything (or could not?) to contain violence; not till nearly a hundred of a minority community lost their lives and thousands lost their livelihood.

When the right wing stirred up this communal conflagration, it was not ashamed, nor was it bothered about its name. But when Sawhney documented it to make a reality-film, the Hindutva brigade suddenly felt it was a communal film, and should be banned.

In some places, the screening had to be withdrawn.


Documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai revisits the riots that tore apart western UP in 2013

Nakul Singh Sawhney’s sprawling documentary proceeds like an inquiry commission report into the riots preceding the famous BJP victory of 2014
Nandini Ramnath  · Feb 19, 2015 · 01:21 pm
Documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai revisits the riots that tore apart western UP in 2013

Photo Credit: via
 Indian documentary has a well-established ‘communal riot anatomy’ genre. This category comprises films that investigate the build-to a sectarian conflagration and present a version of events that differs from government claims and media reports. Such documentaries are audio-visual versions of the state-appointed commission that is typically headed by a retired judge and whose conclusions are usually ignored. These films retrace the bread crumb trail that begins with provocative speeches and statements and inflammatory media reports and winds up at refugee camps, where evidence and testimonies about targeted violence are collected and preserved for posterity.

Nakul Singh Sawhney’s Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai follows in the footsteps of such documentaries as Kya Hua Is Sheher Ko? (by Deepa Dhanraj), In the Name of the Father (by Anand Patwardhan) and Final Solution (by Rakesh Sharma). Sawhney’s 136-minute long documentary is set in the aftermath of the ….

Hindutva feels documentary is communal


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