The oldest living filmmaker from the Indian New Wave, M S Sathyu is about to turn 90. The release of ‘Garam Hawa’ was 45 years ago, which is half a lifetime away.
The veteran filmmaker is still very much a political being. While talking about his classic with Showtime, the conversation is also about the Citizenship (Amendement) Bill, which is not a detour because the issues Sathyu spoke about in 1974 were fought over in Parliament this week.
With the CAB passed in the Parliament, the topic of discussion once again is partition. Has ‘Garam Hawa’ once again become topical?
Some films are relevant at any time. This is one of such cases. The relevance was always there. And now, the situation in India is such that we are becoming more and more communal, and in some ways even anti-Muslim. What happened on (December 9) in Parliament shows that this government is highly prejudiced about Muslims. In the bill which was passed this week, (the term) ‘Muslim’ is not there, but it is discriminatory in any case. So, (Garam Hawa) becomes more relevant in a way than it was before.
When you were making the film in the early 70s, was the political climate similar to the current one?
No, it wasn’t. I had to make a film and be as honest as possible. There were no films made on the partition as such. Ritwik Ghatak had done some films on the partition of Bengal. They were highly stylised films. The holocaust of parition was felt much more on the Western side, in the formation of Pakistan (then West Pakistan). So, one had to portray as true a story as possible.
You are from a Hindu background and the story, originally written by Ismat Chughtai, is about Muslims. Was your perspective that of an outsider?
No. You see, this is a wrong concept, that you should belong to a particular religion or particular cultural atmosphere for you to make a film of that kind. It is not so. When you make a Shakespearean play, how are you related to that culture? It’s only the sensitivity that you have that matters. It’s the human story that is more important. You should have a feel for it, that’s all.