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Red alert! ’Amu’ brings back memories of 1984 riots

Monday 10 January 2005, by CHATTERJEE*Mohua

NEW DELHI: It’s a film that brings back memories not so good. It rakes up unpleasant history at a time when the Congress would least want its ally, Left, to present it with a reminder of an embarrassing episode it wants to keep under wraps. A history of the riots that lashed across Delhi in 1984, killing thousands of Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Amu is not simply a debut feature film by young independent film-maker Shonali Bose, who may have Left leanings. CPM central committee member Brinda Karat plays one of the lead roles in the film made by her sister’s daughter. It was a new role for Karat, though not quite detached from the political role she plays in real life. A familiar face on TV upholding the Left cause and that of women in politics, Karat puts up an impressive act, as the mother of an adopted young girl, orphaned in the riots.

"My niece insisted that I act in her first film. It is a political film. I have the same opinion about it (’84 riots) as depicted in the film. Amu portrays women as the main protagonists who strongly question the injustice. Both are roles I play in my everyday life," says Karat.

What about the party’s approval to Karat’s acting stint? "As a wholetimer, I can’t take any step without the party’s knowledge. In CPM, it is incumbent to have the party’s consent, which I did get before taking on the project two years ago. And this is only a one-time act," she says.

At a time when the Congress and the Left tango together while trying not to step on each other’s foot, the film raises uncomfortable questions. How Gandhi’s assassins were hanged, but those responsible for the carnage got away with murder?

The film points fingers at ministers responsible for methodically running the riots. The hints are big enough to make some, ministers in the UPA government today, uncomfortable in their chairs.

None from Congress was present at the film’s premiere last week. "We wanted to keep it a low-key, non-political affair," as Karat put it.

See online : Times of India

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