7th February, 2014 / 11.00am - 4.00pm
5th October, 2015
Initially banned by the Indian Censor Board, M.S. Sathyu’s debut film was the first to openly address the repressed history of the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, a traumatic rupture that created millions of refugees. Set in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, this intimate realist drama tells the poignant story of a Muslim family in the months following Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948. Factory owner Salim Mirza has chosen to remain in India but struggles with the effects of his decision – the slow implosion of his family, as they encounter increasing anti-Muslim hostility and the influence of radical ideas.
Many of the cast and crew were prominent Marxist and feminist activists, the last of the 1950s generation. Sathyu and actors Balraj Sahni and Farooq Sheikh worked frequently with the Indian People’s Theatre Association, while the screenplay emerged as a collaboration between three celebrated members of the Progressive Writers’ Association: poet-lyricist Kaifi Azmi, screenwriter Shama Zaidi, and novelist Ismat Chughtai. The film is also noted for its score, by classical musician Ustad Bahadur Khan, which includes a qawwali composed and performed by Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi.
Introduced by Dr Priyamvada Gopal (Cambridge).
Post-screening discussion with Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir (KCL).