At a time where the controversial Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is running to be India’s next Prime Minister, Even the Crows explores the way in which his politics and Hindu nationalist ideology have polarised Gujarat along religious lines. Since the anti-Muslim riots that exploded in 2002, the Muslim minority population have been denied justice and marginalised to the ghettos. Meanwhile, Narendra Modi, who has been accused of complicity in the riots, has ridden a wave of popularity. Through the intimate stories of American-Gujarati Nishrin, whose father, a prominent Muslim MP, was butchered during the 2002 Gujarat riots, and British-Gujarati Imran, who was the sole survivor when he was attacked along with his two uncles a friend while on holiday in the state, the film explores Modi’s link to the violence and the minority community’s ongoing struggle for justice.
AHMEDABAD: Two sisters, Sheena and Sonum Sumaria, born in London to a Gujarati-Jain
family, have made a movie on the communal divide that has plagued Gujarat in the aftermath of the communal riots of 2002.
The two sisters, both graduates of Cambridge University, had come to the state in 2012 on a visit to their grandfather’s place of birth in western Gujarat. But once here, they realized that they had entered a divided society polarized along communal lines over the ruling BJP and its leader.
“We were born in London to a Gujarati-Jain family.Our grandparents were born in Gujarat while our parents were born in Kenya. We come from a multi-cultural environment and are passionate about justice. As we delved into Gujarat’s recent history, we could sense the lingering effects of the 2002 riots. We knew that this state was once very inclusive.
This is how our effort to make a film
on Narendra Modi, Hindu nationalism and the suffering of Muslims after 2002 began,” said Sheena, a student of economics at Cambridge and of globalisation and development at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
. Interestingly, the film called, ‘Even the Crows’, was crowd-funded. “Around 56 people from across the world backed our project.
We collected over Rs 8 lakh for the movie’s production,” said Sonum, who studied Spanish and Russian at Cambridge University and film at Escuela de Cine y Television, Cuba. The movie has moving accounts of the Gujarati-American, Nishrin, whose father, a former MP and prominent Muslim leader, was killed during the riots; of Nishrin’s husband, Najid Hussein; and British-Gujarati, Imran, who was the sole survivor when he and two of his uncles were attacked while on a holiday in the state.
Political psychologist Ashis Nandy, danseuse and activist Mallika Sarabhai
and Prasad Chako of St Xaviers have contributed to the film with their insights. Mallika Sarabhai said that the people ruined by the 2002 violence have not received justice. “Every reminder – even if it is in the form of a film – that justice has not been done is welcome, as it gives hope that someone will take note,” she said. The underlining concern explored in the film is the marginalization of the minority community in Gujarati society. “Most people from that community live in ghettos today. Hindutva is glorified for political means even as justice is denied to thousands of Muslims traumatized by the violence directed against them,” said Sheena. Having screened the film in the diaspora, the sisters seem positive.
“Indians outside India read how Modi’s party is good for business but they know little about other things. We plan to raise a debate and encourage critical thinking,” said Sonum. “We have filmed in India, the UK and the US and hope to screen the movie in all these places and at film festivals. For India, we intend to align screening dates with the anniversary of the Gujarat riots,” said Sheena. ‘Modi as PM would split India’
The filmmaker sisters feel that Gujarat chief minister’s style of politics and Hindu fundamentalist ideology has polarized the state along religious lines and may further divide India if he becomes the PM. “He might strip India of its secular strength,” they said.
ReAd more here — http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/NRG-sisters-film-records-lingering-trauma-of-2002/articleshow/29966168.cms
Sheena Sumaria studied economics and development studies at Cambridge University and the School of Oriental and African Studies and started to make films while travelling and working with marginalised communities in South America. Her films include ‘Still Standing’, set in the slums of Colombia, and ‘Chile Construyendo Suenos’ about the Chilean student uprising. She has also worked for a range of NGOs and international organisations on social policy and international development issues.
Sonum Sumaria read Spanish and Russian at Cambridge University. She studied filmmaking at the renowned Cuban film school, EICTV, and has directed and produced a number of short films and documentaries. These include award winning ‘Goppi the Cuban Indian’ and ‘The Enchanted Apple Tree’.