Directorate of Film Festivals in collaboration with Ministry of Defense organized ‘Independence Film Festival’: Azadi 70 Saal – Yaad Karo Qurbaani (70 years of independence, recall the sacrifice): Aug 12 – 18, 2016 at Siri Fort Auditorium Complex. The festival marked the celebration of the glorious 69th year of Indian independence. It was subjected to screen slew of patriotic films, released in different languages: Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi etc. The films were based on the roles played by freedom fighters (Gandhi, Sardar, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose etc), the situations before independence (Lagaan), and other stories that may pump nationalism in the veins (like Mary Kom, Chak De). The cherry on the cake was that the entry to the screening was absolutely FREE.
Just when one would assume by the brochure, if screening films like Sardar, Veer Savarkar, Shaheed Udham Singh were an attempt to oppose the Gandhi-Nehruvian ideologies – the opening film Gandhi, shunned the misconception: making the film festival really multi-perspectival. Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose, Udham Singh, Veer Savarkar and so forth were the eminent personalities who contributed in the freedom struggle, as much as Gandhi, Nehru and others did. The contributions and ideologies may have differed, where one believed in ‘Tit for Tat’, and the other feared if ‘an eye to an eye would turn the world blind’. Which one was appropriate then: we can’t tell, since we are not at ‘the time’. Which is ethical: is also hard to decide, since, if one laid the basis of Civil Rights Movement in the America, the other was praised as ‘just’ for the culprits of Jallianwalan Bagh massacre. Which one of them fetched us freedom is also debatable: perhaps either one of them, or both, or none! Thus, the role played by these heroes can be largely appreciated as well as criticised studying the evidences available; and criticism on one part does not reduce the significance on the other.
Cinemas can be mirrors to crucial truths. Although, it was an incredible approach to open the history of Indian freedom movement to the public, yet, the motive remained incomplete as few of the regional language films did not have subtitles.
Moreover, there should have been screenings of films like Swades or Nayak too, to motivate youth participation in the nation development: films that restore faith in the system, and encourage the youth to country rather abroad . More than digging the past, the need of the hour is to shape the future.
It was a commendable effort by the organisers and hope to see more of such initiatives. Everyone should attend such screenings, learn from the historical narration and critically analyse while making any opinion.