Growing up in Chandigarh, 21-year-old Garima Pura had heard several stories related to 1984 anti-Sikh riots from her parents, relatives and neighbours.
The stories, describing how thousands of Sikhs were massacred in 1984 after Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, made a great impact on Pura’s mind. So, when it came to making a project for her degree course at Symbiosis Institute of Mass and Communication (SIMC), choosing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as the theme of her project came naturally to her.
Kanda Da Paar (Beyond The World) is a 20-minute short film by Pura that revisits the riots. “There are a lot of things written and forgotten about the anti-Sikh riots. I feel that a film is a medium that, if well-executed, can bring people to empathise and understand the gravity of the situation, as it was in 1984. The anecdotal research and my education in political science became my reference material for the film,” she said.
The story is based on an incident in Punjab on November 2, 1984, when curfew was imposed but anti-sikh mobs weren’t pacified.
The film opens with an alarmed Renu Brar, a Sikh woman, who was walking in fear of a sexual attack on her way back home from a store, where she was denied groceries.
Renu’s husband Bhupinder Singh was court-martialled from the Army for having participated in “anti-Indira” protests. Their 21-year-old son, meanwhile, is shown battling between the new ‘rational’ world of his philosophy books and the redundancy of religion in his ideology. In an attempt to make his voice heard, he writes for an underground newsletter, oblivious to the power of communally-charged mobs.
“Though the film is about anti-Sikh riots, we have not shown any riots in the film. Through the story of this family, the film captures the impact of the riots on an entire community,” she said.
I wrote the script six months ago and we chose to shoot the film in Pune, she added.
Interestingly, the project, which was made in a budget of Rs 70,000, is completely crowd-funded. Instead of registering the project with any crowdfunding portal, Pura decided to make her own website to raise funds. Currently, the film is in post-production stage.
Mumbai-based actor Taranjit Kaur, whose first film Raju won the Student Oscar Academy award and was nominated for the main Oscars, plays the lead in the film. Ex-Army officer Maj Mohommed Ali Shah (Retd.), nephew of celebrated actor Naseeruddin Shah, is also a part of the cast.