By Salim Haq, Dhaka, May 18 ANI | 1 year ago

'Children of War' an Indian-made film that was released on May 16, 2014 as 'Juddho Shishu' in 15 cinema halls across Bangladesh including Dhaka, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Joydebpur and Tangali has taken the country by storm.

Starring Indian actors Raima Sen, Indraneil Sengupta, Victor Banerjee, Pawan Malhotra, Tilottama Shome, and newcomers Rucha and Shatrunjay, besides the late Farooque Sheikh, the film, directed by Mrityunjay Devvrat, is a brilliant depiction of the pain and tragedy that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The film encapsulates the horrendous tragedy of the nine months that led to the creation of Bangladesh through the representative stories of several characters. Yet, at its core, the film deals with an extremely sensitive subject- the children born to women who were repeatedly raped by Pakistan Army soldiers.

Not surprisingly, even though the film is a brutal depiction of the events of 1971 and not one for the squeamish, it has caught the imagination of the film-watching public in Bangladesh.

Sections of the middle class, the youth, civil society groups and secular liberal audiences have been thronging the shows. The audiences have been shocked and numbed by the brutality that was unleashed by the Pakistani Army on the hapless people of Bangladesh four decades ago.

Most have watched the film quietly, sharing the pain of the women and with a numbing sense of retrospection at what their countrymen went through to get independence.

In some places, enraged audiences have shouted abusive allegations against the perpetrators (the Pakistan Army, the Jamaat collaborators) of the genocide and the crimes against women.

In some theatres, anti US slogans have been raised for its tacit connivance with Pakistan.

In a few theatres, radical elements representing the Jamaat and its off-shoots have tried to disrupt the screening by shouting and mid-show walkouts but have had to beat a hasty retreat sensing the mood of the overwhelming majority.

The online social media, movie website and Youtube chatter has gone viral. The common refrain is that the film is a masterpiece and a fitting tribute to the Liberation War of 1971.

For the younger generation, especially those born after 1971, the film is a graphic revelation of their history that has been somewhat dimmed by the confusing twists and turns of the politics of the country since Independence. Even for those who have memories of what transpired in 1971, the film is grim reminder of what they need to do to preserve their way of life, their culture.

The film also strikes a chord because of the Shahbagh movement of 2013 that was a spontaneous outpouring of civil society seeking justice for the war criminals of 1971. The film, in fact, has given vent to the pent up feeling of a nation seeking justice for so long.

Not surprisingly, there is now a clamour for the screening of 'Juddho Shishu' in interior parts of Bangladesh.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are of the author Salim Haq.

(Posted on 19-05-2014)

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