In India, Showing Sectarian Pain to Eyes That Are Closed

Somini Sengupta in the New York Times:

Screenhunter_01_feb_20_1124Rahul Dholakia, an Indian filmmaker and a native of the western Indian state of Gujarat, set out five years ago to make a movie about a friend who lost his son during the Gujarat riots of 2002.

This film, “Parzania,” is based on the true story of Azhar Mody, or Parzan, as he is called in the film, a 13-year-old boy who disappeared during the riots, which began after 59 Hindus died in a train fire for which a Muslim mob was initially blamed. The cause of the train fire is still unknown, though a number of politically competing investigations are looking into it. But there is little mystery in what it inspired: a Hindu-led pogrom against the Muslims of Gujarat, in which 1,100 people were killed, some by immolation, and many women were raped.

The film is now being shown in nine Indian cities, and it has received a fair amount of critical acclaim, particularly for the performance of its two leading actors, Naseeruddin Shah, who plays the father, and Sarika, who plays the mother. Time Out Mumbai credited Mr. Dholakia for having managed to “remind viewers of what really happened in 2002, and why it’s important not to forget.”

But in Gujarat, the director’s home state, theater owners have said it is too controversial and have refused to show it.

More here.