Friday, August 21, 2009


Open Space
screened Rakesh Sharma's documentary
Final Solution
Sunday, 23rd August, 2009
at the
Open Space - Lucknow Office

Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat, India, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. The film examines the aftermath of the deadly violence that followed the burning of 58 Hindus on the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra on 27th February, 2002. In reaction to that incident, some 2,500 Muslims were brutally murdered, hundreds of women raped, and more than 200,000 families driven from their homes. Borrowing its reference from the history of Nazism, the title of the film exposes what the director calls 'Indian Fascism' and seeks to remind that "those who forget history are condemned to relive it."

A dialogue that ensued after the screening with a member of the audience is as follows:

Do you think films should not have been made on the genocide of Muslims that took place in Gujarat in 2002?
Yes, I do think such films should not have been made, because they promote anger, enmity and hatred.

Since films made on the Gujarat 2002 genocide of Muslims promote hatred, so the students in schools and colleges should should also not be taught about it?
Yes, of course!

So, the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 should never be mentioned at any forum whatsover?
Why do you only take Gujarat? Start right from the beginning. Also talk about Muslim atrocities. It is always better not to talk of things that provoke hatred and fury, in my opinion.

Do you mean that once a genocide has taken place, no matter what the community, it should never be talked about?
No its mention should be confined to reference books, history books, etc., and should not be publicised in the general public. Only the educated and the intelligent should read about such genocides, not the common man. When such things are shown to the general public, it gets agitated and turns violent.

So, according to you, it is okay if books are written on genocides, provided those are kept in libraries accessible only to academics and scholars and not to the common man. There should be no mention of genocides in the sources of information accessible to the general public. Is this what you are saying?
Yes, if it spreads hatred. If the two conflicting communities live together and want to continue to do so, only those things should be shown that promote communal harmony. When such genocides happen, they do get reported in the press. That is enough. There is no need to remind people of suh incidents at every opportunity. The effort should be that such incidents do not occur again. Such terrible incidents should be mentioned only in a positive way with solutions to the problems. It is the responsibility of the press and media to promote communal harmony, and not instigate people by showing such provocative things or by writing about them.

Don't you see these documentary films as part of that effort?
No, I don't, because I believe that those who make such films are only looking for cheap publicity and that these films are their endeavours to establish their film careers.

Are you against the screening of Final Solution?
Yes, I am. It hurts Muslims and puts Hindus to shame.

Is it wrong to put Hindus to shame if they are at fault?
No, I am not saying that. What I am saying is why should those who are not guilty, be put to shame. The perpetrators are not seeing it. And, why do you show films only on Hindu atrocities on Muslims. Why don't you ever show a film on the plight of displaced Hindu Pandits of Kashmir or on the ill-treatment of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh?

So, according to you, films like Final Solution have no place in society?
Films should be made for the promotion of communal harmony.

Do you think it was justified to ban Final Solution?
I don't know that. I am not intelligent enough to be able to answer your tricky questions.

The respondent, a seventy-year-old academic, does not want her identity to be revealed.

A noteworthy response to the film came from the Urdu poet Anwar Nadeem:

वक़्त, हालत और सियासत के नापाक गठजोड़ ने तहजीब के रौशन फानूस को कुछ इस तरह तोडा कि उसकी किरचें आँख, दिल, दिमाग और एहसास में शायद हमेशा के लिए पेबस्त हो गयीं।
बहुत ही मकरूह मंज़रों के पीछे साँस लेते सियासी इरादों को उजागर करना आसान काम नहीं था, मगर मुबारकबाद के हक़दार हैं राकेश शर्मा कि उन्होंने नेहायत बेलाग ज़हन के साथ हिन्दुस्तानी तारीख के एक दर्दनाक दौर की मंज़रकशी में film editing की राह से अपनी बेहतरीन सलाहियतों को दर्शाया है।

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