Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai: All India Protest Screening and Solidarity Meet

25th August, 2015

Attended the screening of documentary Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai directed by Nakul Singh Sawhney. Kolkata held three screenings of the film at three locations and different times of the day. At
Muktangan Rangalaya where the screening was organized by Cinema of Resistance, Kolkata, it was preceded by a performance by activists against the various fascist measures taken by the state to hinder freedom of speech. 

The screening of Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai which happened in Kirori Mal College under Delhi University was disrupted by ABVP goons. The film probed into the 2013 riots which happened in Uttar Pradesh and the involvement of BJP in it. Protest screenings were scheduled on 25th August 2015 all over the country. That was the day filmmaker Shubradeep Chakravorty whose work En Dino Muzaffarnagar also had been censored and attacked by the right wing for the same reasons had died.

After the screening we were informed that the screenings at Santiniketan and Chennai had been stopped by right wingers. Students from FTII who were present during the screening also spoke about the ongoing strike in the institute against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairperson.

Before the screening at Muktangan Rangalaya, Raj Behari, Kolkata

Vai Vow, my classmate and i watched the film in a packed hall. The sound was bad and the projection was a little slanted but what the documentary showed was what it was all about. Even though i have differences of opinion in the way it was cut and filmed and the storytelling itself i also believe that the film was not about any of those at all. I could feel and see the reason for whatever was wrong with the country called india in there.

It was only a few days ago that i had read about yet another incident of BJP activists being caught with beef. Not that it had anything to do with Muzaffarnagar. Yet these days i feel most of the things i read are intertextual with the happenings like that of Muzaffarnagar. Why do riots happen? How do they happen? Whose country is hindusthan and what are minorities like muslims going through in this country are questions which need to be addressed every day in every other conversation, in my opinion. The documentary clearly analyzes the role of political parties, majorly BJP, in the Muzaffarnagar riots. It also digs into how it resulted in the sweeping victory that BJP had in the elections which followed it. It spoke about how the farmers lost to communal powers, the use of women to generate violence by accusing muslim men of assaulting hindu women, of the situation of dalits, how they suffered regardless of who was in power. The portions which exposed how the 'muslims steal our women' story was made up and fake were powerful. The portions in which hindu women spoke for themselves saying 'we are not safe in our own houses and they expect us to be safe outside' followed by the speaker's poignant look into nothing still remains in my mind.

I felt that the whole event caught the essence of their slogan 'You stop us at one place, we spring up everywhere!'
I will not say that Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai is a well made documentary. What i will say and continue saying is that everybody should watch it either as a mark of solidarity against the fascist government in place in the country now or as a reality check. How we have reached this state of affairs where Mr Narndra Modi is our PM and every day there is one remark or the other which essentially urges india to be more and more hindu in outlook and living.

After the screening someone asked me if i thought that filmmaking was a way to protest or resist anything. I gave an emphatic yes as an answer and added that i also thought that art was the best way to resist against anything at all. I believe it and hope to practise it. I also believe in keeping records. Coincidentally on the day of the screening someone in the institute had asked me why i wanted a record of everything that happened put up on social media. It sounded ironical to me, coming from an aspiring filmmaker. Isn't a filmmaker's struggle or quest also that of recording itself? Tomorrow i will be dead like Shubradeep Chakravorty. Like how he had left his film, his record, i would want a record to remind people that i had lived with such and such people and in such and such times. Insignificant as i am is how significant the time i live in is. 
Long live freedom of speech! 

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