A peep into the melancholic past of ‘Deccani Souls’

Kaz Rahman’s film seeks to bridge the present with the past and narrate a forgotten story in a surreal format

August 31, 2012 09:12 am | Updated 09:12 am IST - HYDERABAD:

‘Deccani Souls’ director Kaz Rahman in the city on Thursday.  Photo: G.Ramakrishna

‘Deccani Souls’ director Kaz Rahman in the city on Thursday. Photo: G.Ramakrishna

The cultural heritage and architecture of Hyderabad have attracted many chroniclers who told the world whatever they found fascinating about the city.

But suppressed behind the city’s ‘bindaas’ façade could be many scars which have not been allowed an opportunity to surface.

It is these obliterated pages from history that compelled the Canadian film maker Kaz Rahman to attempt the film ‘Deccani Souls’.

A wistful perspective to the feel-good city, the film seeks to bridge the present with the past, to narrate a forgotten story in a surreal format.

Contextualising his narrative in the aftermath of the Police Action in 1948 known as ‘Operation Polo’, Mr.Rahman makes the characters chart the course of history, leaving their footprints as a guide to the melancholic undercurrents of the city.

Untold chapter

“Mainstream history in India has avoided speaking about what happened during Operation Polo. Many Muslims left for Pakistan during the 1950s. Many left for the US in the 1960s and to the Gulf in the 1970s and 80s. So many people do not know about it now. It is like a chapter in history that has been totally wiped out,” Mr.Rahman says.

However, the purpose of the film’s poetic tone is not to shock the audience, he says. It is simply an attempt to make them come to terms with history. “I don’t think any community, state, society or people can look to go forward without coming to terms with its past. But there is a black cloud on the state of Hyderabad,” he says pensively.

Born of a Hyderabadi father, but brought up in Canada, Mr. Rahman was intrigued by the city during his stay here between 2004 and 2007.

Putting together anecdotes from his father who was 14 during the Police Action and finding crumbling remnants of those stories here in the city, Mr.Rahman set about shooting the film in 2007-08.

He shot extensively in many parts of the erstwhile Hyderabad State, including the city and Bidar.

Treading the lesser known paths, he etched the mystical journey by a character, Hamza, who dreams of another place and time in Hyderabad. A census collector who delves into the original occupants of the houses he surveys and an Urdu poet struggling with a writer’s block complete the plot. The film was screened here on Thursday, with further screenings scheduled for September 2 at Prasad’s Film Lab Preview Theatre, Banjara Hills, and September 21 at University of Hyderabad.

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