31 st October Leaves You Feeling Cheated
In the last scene of the film '31 st October' when an aged Soha Ali Khan tears up the documentary evidence of the holocaust that was almost like the second partition,saying that she did not want justice after 31 years the audience almost shouts back ,"Why make the film in that case".
Those of us who had played 'Hindu traitors' by saving our Sikh neighbours in those traumatic four days of mayhem and arson in Delhi following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi were hoping for some insights,some unknown clues into why India, particularly Delhi, turned into such a ferocious animal, came back disappointed.
We were feeling doubly cheated because the producers appear to have timed its release to affect the voters of Punjab in the next assembly elections where one of the surveys had put Amrinder Singh's Congress leading the others.
There was some indication of this when the film expressed its thanks to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee and senior lawyer H S Phoolka who continues to fight for the almost 3000 victims of planned violence in Delhi itself.
With such credentials, giving up the fight means many things.
One, it could be a message to move on with life.Secondly, it could mean, let the government in power handle the issue. Sikh victims individually have lost precious time and resources and are too tired to continue.
The story of how the mayhem began on October 31 after the BBC, either by design or for maintaining its high standards of journalism, announced that 2 'Sikh bodyguards'of Indira Gandhi had killed her.
In India the ethics of journalism teach us not to mention the religion of two parties in conflict.
Anyway back to the film.Even if its protagonists are too passive to be real there are some typical characters who make their mark.
For instance, there is the typical brute police inspector who would not allow a family travelling in an Ambasssdor to pass through a barrier because he wants to spend a night with the scared wife(Soha Ali Khan).He finally relents when she offers him all the jewellery and cash she had saved for such unexpected trouble.
But the best character is a typical bandmaster who is driving the ill Vir Das (Sikh husband of Soha Khan)in his dicky.Being taunted as a 'mirasi' good for nothing coward by the Inspector he pulls out the pistol from the policewalas) belt and shoots him dead.
And of course there is that typical leech who gives shelter to a scared Sikh only to snatch his money, watch and gold chain only to hand him over to the marauders.
The empty theatres in the multiplexes on the first two days are also due to the tag of Adult granted to it.
Families like to go to theatres like outings now and there were young children watching a film like Pink.
But even if the film is like a documentary the new generation must watch it to find out what permanent divide bigoted slogans can cause.
Late Khushwant Singh had clearly written that the 1984 holocaust was not Hindu Sikh riots.
If Hindus had not saved their Sikh neighbours the figure of deaths would not have been just 3000.
It was a progrom organised by some sadists to prove their loyalty for which later Prime Ministers had to apologise publicly.