Hitting out and how!
ZIYA US SALAM
Rahul Dholakia's "Parzania", based on the Gujarat violence, has grabbed attention at the ongoing International Film Festival of India.
MAKING A POINT A scene from the "Parzania"
A couple of years ago nobody would have suspected him of having a film like "Parzania" under his belt. That was the time he was swearing by commercial cinema, and had opened his account in Bollywood with "Kehta Hai Dil Bar Bar", a Jimmy Sheirgill, Kim Sharma-starrer. The film failed at the box office, and unnoticed, almost unseen Rahul Dholakia faded from the public memory. Now, he is back. And what way to come back! His film "Parzania", screened at the International Film Festival of India in Goa this week, raised the hackles of a few people, and caught the attention of the discerning. Here was a filmmaker making a film from his heart, about a subject he feels from his heart.
Says Dholakia, "Two or three people were not too happy with the screening. They believed that we had an agenda but an overwhelming majority of the audience enjoyed the film. And truth to tell, the reaction of a section of the audience did not surprise me. From the beginning I was aware what I was doing. I did it in full consciousness. Whether writing or making the film, I was not bothered about the consequences. I made `Parzania' because I believed in it. If you believe in something, you should stand by it. When you take a stand, there are bound to be problems. But remember, these elements go silent after some time. Whoever got lost on the right path?"
Incidentally, "Parzania", starring Naseeruddin Shah, Sarika and Corin Nemic, is the story of Parsi parents caught in the Gujarat genocide in 2002. Based on a real life incident, it depicts the plight of parents who lose their 10-year-old son in the violence.
Says Dholakia, "I took no finances from Bollywood because I did not want songs in my film. I did not want to dramatise it. I wanted no melodrama. My film is inspired from a true story. People were scared to finance it when I mooted the idea. Some Muslims were willing. I refused because then it could have been dubbed as a propaganda film. I wanted to make `Parzania' because I had to. It was part of my consciousness. I don't look at myself as a Hindu or Gujarati. I am a filmmaker trying to do an honest job."
Isn't it easier said than done in a society divided between "we" and "they"?
"Yes and it is very sad. People are branded pseudo secular. I have been called some unprintable names but I was born in Bombay, I grew up in Ahmedabad. Secularism is part of me. I don't know any other form of secularism. It is our country we are talking about. If we don't talk about anything, how will we solve things? We cannot leave everything to the government? We can do our bit. I have to do mine as a filmmaker, the responsible audience theirs."He is clearly wedded to his film. Dholakia, who has in the past, made a number of advertisement films and an award-winning documentary on teenage parents in the U.S., feels strongly about "Parzania". "It is about the family, the state, the country I know very well. The Parsis are the most neutral of families. When they are affected by violence, anybody can be affected. Even Hindus will be affected if they believe in what those saffron guys believe in. People don't have to agree with me... they are entitled to their viewpoint. It goes for any fundamentalist outfit of any religion, any hue. It was the same thing with the Nazis, with George Bush. You are either with them or against them."Incidentally, this song-less film in English has Hollywood cameraman Robert Eras among its credits. Not to forget the music score by Zakir Husain with Ustad Sultan Khan on the sarangi, Rakesh Chaurasia on the flute, Peter Brooks on saxaphone. Incidentally, "Parzania" is the inaugural film of the Indian Panorama in the tenth International Film Festival of Kerala that is beginning on December 9.
Cleared by the Censors with an adult certificate, Rahul intends to screen the film in Ahmedabad too from where it all began. "Parzania", hard-hitting and heart-felt is here, now who wants to talk about "Kehta Hai Dil Bar Bar"?
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