Portraying violence on celluloid

Portraying violence on celluloid

Hard to watch

Children of War was last year screened at 500 theatres across the country. Director Mrityunjay Devvrat says that making a film of violence such as this, was hard to shoot, pitch and sell.

The film is about the nine months of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, where according to statistics four lakh women were raped and three million people were murdered.

The 32-year-old director very crudely shows the relentless rapes and murders during that time, in his fiction film.

“Women were the main targets of the Pakistani army during that time, which had the aim of impregnating all Bangladeshi women so that they ‘bear the children of Pakistan’,” Devvrat tells Metrolife.

The film shows women being raped in front of their husbands, being taken to camps (rape camps), where they were repeatedly violated by the Pakistani army till they were pregnant.

Killings of random men and women all over were no less ravaging than the scenes from Hotel Rwanda, where people were lying around dead on the roads, rotting.

“We did extensive research with victims and their family members, to decide how to shoot the scenes. We also went through archives and spoke to the present youth activists who are still fighting the Razakars,” says Devvrat.

The Razakars are all pro-Pakistan Bangladeshis, who were apparently responsible for the killings, and today hold important positions in various ministries of the country.

“The film has also been screened in Bangladesh. I am happy when a war widow reaches out to me today and says thanks,” says Devvrat.

“Being a director, I do want each shot to be perfect, each cut to be made in the right place. But shooting such difficult to watch scenes is not easy. At times I have felt like going behind the camera man and hiding myself for demanding so much from my actors.

Today when I watch the film, I still feel there were so many things that could have made it more sentimental,” he sighs.

The film was in the theatres for one week, “the maximum any independent filmmaker can get”. The film was first named The Bastard Child but the name was changed and also many cuts were made.

He affirms that the film shows nothing but the truth and is indeed a docu-fiction. He has been as honest as possible, but making so many changes to the film was upsetting.

Eminent actors like Raima Sen, Pavan Malhotra, late Farooq Sheikh, Tillotama Shome and Indraniel Sengupta have helped the film reach where it is today.

“I want my films to be cinematically appealing but also about subjects that matter. I can make films for studios as well, but I want that the audience should feel enriched and have something to learn from the film,” he says.