By Atul Mishra
Not many films can boast of as many cancelled or stalled screenings as Nakul Singh Sawhney’s Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai. The film even faced challenges from ‘offended’ groups in one of the most open minded places in the national capital i.e. Delhi University.
NewsGram recently went to a screening of the film and got to know what people thought about it.
Among others, Sandhya Nambiar, the organizer of this screening, felt that the movie was more about “asking pertinent questions for the times, than giving answers.”
When Muzaffarnagar riots happened in August-September 2013, there were mixed claims and reactions by everybody. From media to political groups, no one was sure which community instigated the riots. Like any other riot, Muzzafarnagar soon became a classic example of instigation rather than a spark that started off and spread like fire.
After an year since the tragic incident, Nakul Singh Sawhney made Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai, a documentary film set in the aftermath of the riots.
Are the riots to be viewed in a Hindu-Muslim binary? Were the innocent people of Muzaffarnagar mere pawns in a larger game? Muzaffarnagar and Shamli have not given in yet. Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai asks these questions and is a liberating experience, in the sense that it says there is no giving up. The documentary brings to light how the game of politics was initiated to benefit the ulterior agenda of BJP.
The testimonies of the Jat, Muslim and Dalit residents of the districts during the interviews (which were taken and have been incorporated in the film) prove that the Bharatiya Janata Party appears to have engineered the situation to win the general election of 2014 and elevate Narendra Modi to the nation’s prime ministership. And it succeeded all too magnificently.
Antra Vijay, a JNU student said, “My focus was more on the psychological individualities. For example, as you progress through the movie, all the people who are being interviewed, how they identify themselves. Initially it was just names, then their religion and then class and then even the divisions within religion. Their identity therefore undergoes a transformation even within the frame of time in the movie itself.”
Sawhney had travelled to western Uttar Pradesh districts soon after the riots that drove several Muslim survivors out of their homes and into refugee camps. He interviewed survivors, local residents, and activists and leaders of all hues to understand the conditions that contributed to the situation.
This film has been banned from screening at various places. Though it has been screened privately a few times, Sawhney hopes to circulate the film more widely in the coming months.