Saturday, September 01, 2012

Film review: Amu directed by Sonali Bose


Sonali Bose’s debut film Amu is a story of an adopted NRI child, played out by Konkana Sen Sharma, who returns to her family in India to film the ‘real” life of India, but gets caught up in the discovery of her own roots in India.

Kajori Roy, fondly called Kaju, is fresh out of the States complete with twang and all and is here trying to capture India in the raw. Kabir, (Ankur Khanna) is not entertained by the thought but helps her to capture as much as she can get out of India, that is Delhi, where the film was shot. This leads Kaju to Kalyanpuri, the central hub of where the 1984 riots and massacre against the Sikhs took place after the gunning down of the then, Prime Minister of India – Smt Indira Gandhi. To her horror, Kaju discovers that her own origin was from there, quite unlike what her mother, Keya Roy, played out by Brinda Bose had told her. In a medley of events, research and angst of finding out her real parents and whether they were still alive, Kaju and Keya, hit a new level of understanding, compassion and empathy, as they jointly clear the cloud and the misunderstanding covering the past of Keya’s adoption and Kaju’s true identity, which is really enmeshed in the happenings, the carnage and the loss thereafter, of her entire family in the riots. Kaju is Amu, the only surviving child of her parents adopted by Kajori Roy, because the circumstances lead her to do so.

The film travels through the pathos of lives that survived the carnage and what became of them. It is truly worth seeing.

In an effort to present perhaps a personal history, Sonali Bose’s film, leaves the viewer wondering on two things:
(a)    The film was lack luster if one looked at it from the point of view that here was one Kaju coming to film a country her genes belonged to.
(b)   However, the viewer find themselves suddenly having to deal with Kaju’s own origin, and her personal history.
(c)    Worse still, the viewer must now be forced to see the carnage of the 1984 riots and the repercussions, which wind around Kaju’s own life as well.
(d)  
The viewer wonders: What is the film maker trying to deal with? Is it the NRI sudden and ridiculous eye on in the India that is poor? Or is it the story of Amu coming out finally from its obscured past, even hidden and forgotten? Or is it the story of the riots of 1984 being played out so that history never forgets what happened then? How State sponsored violence can be planned and executed? What is the real message of the film?
 
The answer is in all. You may like to view the film for its attempt at trying to revive the memory of the past. You may also like to view the film for it very close brush with perhaps the real story of adoption, of the film maker herself, which can be seen as a plausible reason why there is a sense of confusion the viewer is left with, which probably reflects the film maker’s own person confusion on this matter. However, she has tied it up very beautifully at the end. The Kaju you meet at the beginning of the film, is matured, more thoughtful, albeit not so bubbly.

Brinda Karat was fabulous and the mother-daughter, relationship built by Keya Roy and Konkona Sen Sharma as Kaju is indeed, beautiful and so real.

Cast ( Only one Big Starer)
Konkona Sen Sharma as Kajori Roy
Brinda Karat as Keya
Ankur Khanna as Kabir
Kuljeet Singh as Gurbachan Singh
Bharat Kapoor as Arun Sehga
Lushin Dubey as Meera Sehgal

Awards
2005: National Film Award: Best Feature Film in English
2005: FIPRESCI Critics Award.
2005: Gollapudi Srinivasa National Award – Best Debut Director (India)
2005: Teenage Choice Award, Torino, Italy (Cine donne Film Festival).
2005: Jury Award, Torino, Italy (Cine donne Film Festival).
2006: Star Screen Award – Best English Film (India)

External links (via Wikipedia)
Back in time: Immediate cause leading up to the 1884 Sikh Riots:

Which then lead to the assassination of India Gandhi followed by State Sponsored carnage and brutality at Kalyanpuri and Trilokpuri in East Delhi and indeed other areas of Delhi which had a high population of Sardars. The two neighbouring areas of Trilokpuri and Kalyanpuri were donated by Indira Gandhi to Sikh famililies and indeed, these areas saw extreme loyalty to Mrs Indira Gandhi. The complex issue has been studied and painstakingly researched by Uma Chakravarti and Nandita Hasker and published in a book called - The Delhi riots: three days in the life of a nation (Buy: http://www.amazon.com/The-Delhi-Riots-Three-Nation/dp/8170620201 )


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