This is one film that captured the zeitgeist it is set in. The essence of the Emergency, the angst of the youth, and the things it talked about when it released in early 2000s — those things ring true even now,” said Shubhra Gupta, film critic, The Indian Express, at the screening of Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, which was screened last week at the India Habitat Centre, as part of the Indian Express Film Club.
The screening, which had director Sudhir Mishra present, was followed by a discussion with the audience. “Even after so many years — we made the film in 2002 and released it in 2004 — I am stopped at airports and colleges, people come to me and talk about this film. I have made many other films, but nothing else has come close,” said Mishra.
The film, which starred Chitrangada Singh, KK Menon, and Shiney Ahuja in the lead, was set in the backdrop of the Emergency in the mid-seventies. It told the story of Siddharth (Menon), a revolutionary, Gita (Singh) a person of privilege who is in love with Siddharth, and Vikram (Ahuja), a fixer. Their lives get intertwined in college, and they meet again, when the ‘revolution’ was unfolding in the hinterlands of India. “I had lived that life. My father was a Nehruvian, my grandfather was a politician. I made this film for my imaginary elder brothers and sisters. I had to do very little research for this film,” said Mishra.
“We in our generation had lived that life. But there were the seedier elements in the Naxal movement as well. We had heard of the ammunition deals, and violence.” said Prof Nalin Pant from IIT-Delhi. “That’s why Siddharth leaves. He was so disillusioned, but I call it a failing forward,” says Mishra.
Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, executive editor, HarperCollins, wished to know where Mishra’s sympathies lay as a filmmaker — with Vikram’s cyncism, or the idealism of Siddharth. “I actually am Gita. We had started writing this, and we had a completely different film. We only had a good film when we hit on the cynicism of Vikram,” said Mishra.