Friday, February 9, 2007

Dear Rahul Dholakia,

You know, you're so lucky your film got a screening anywhere at all. Wish the rest of us were this lucky, though. You're probably still doing all you can to show your film everywhere in Gujarat, especially the multiplexes. I wish with all the might at my disposal that even the single screen theatres shut their doors on your film.

In fact, if given half a choice, I would vote that your film be banned immediately in Mumbai as well.

Why, you ask? Your film's collections are picking up, you mention? Well, of course they would. Your film was endorsed by dozens of usually dependable critics as 'Cinema that must be watched'. The other dozen halfwits who gave you a 4-star rating first read the other guys' reviews and then jumped on the bandwagon.

I must applaud your sturdy common sense in picking a subject that would guarantee you eyeballs. Where I do take objection, is that audiences and critics alike have stepped in to defend and praise glowingly a film that is at best, mediocre and at worst, inflammatory. Of course, if I object it's because I want you to realise that there are some of us who cannot back a film simply because 'learned' souls do.

There is not one redeeming factor that saves your film from itself, not one. Save for the green of Shanaz's eyes or the pain in Cyrus'. Nothing else. Everything in your film, right from the Gandhi-toting American spewing expletives, to the final NHRC hearing is one big sham.

And I'll explain why - I, like you, don't want to be accused of not explaining my subject matter thoroughly. I call your film a sham because I am ashamed of how ruthlessly you chose to exploit Azhar's family (not Parzan, but Azhar), how superficially you chose to lay their story for others to judge, how casually you insert references of private parts being mutilated with knives and of breasts being cut and strewn about, at the height of cruelty in the carnage. Cruelty as you choose to see it, sir. For a commoner like me, it is as cruel to ride on a desperate family's search for thier missing boy, peg your film around it and leave the narrative floundering happily while you talk of mobs and the rest of it.

Your film is a sham also because you have nothing new to say. I was still in college when Godhra happened, but I remember following the story well. Your account of Godhra is only culled from reportage of that time, and that too, very sloppily and superficially.

Your film, apart from being ridiculously one-sided, is calculated to cause a riot once again. I suppose if that happens, you will have attained eternal glory as the man who moved a nation to action. I so wish that if a riot is inevitable, the rioteers decide to start and end the riot by targeting only you. It is too scary a thought that innocents should get caught in a crossfire that they did nothing to cause. Like the numerous cliches in your film emphasise, why should blameless souls be blamed for raking up an incident that is not only best forgotten, but best gotten over?

And what was the ending? A very literal interpretition of a family awaiting justice in the NHRC court of law, and an abrupt shift to Azhar's schoolboy picture , with the caption, 'This boy is still missing. If you have any information,' yada yada yada.

Sir, if you had no message, no solution, nothing new to offer by way of a storyline or narrative, why take the trouble to make a film at all? Your only claim to fame in this entire enterprise seems that you induced a bunch of idiots in the Censor Board to pass your film and allow it a nation-wide release. All I remember of your film 24 hours later, is that lanky American who calls Indians 'motherfuckers', a little girl who cries on Rakhi day for her brother and the beginnings of a migraine after watching a mediocre film with no cinematic values and no ethics in storytelling.

Bad show, sir. If you have a semblance of self-respect or even half an ethic left in your warped judgement of what is right and wrong (or indeed, is it your place to be judgemental at all?), you will pull out your pathetic excuse for a film out of cinema theatres pronto. For if tomorrow, a group of impressionable minds picks up swords and sutli bombs to avenge their dead after one screening of your film, I hope they go after you first.

Yours in disgust,

p.s.: Thousand apologies for not mentioning 'Parzania' anywhere in my communication to you. But then, you didn't choose to either, when communicating to us.