03 Nov 2006 Source: Reuters
By Bappa Majumdar
KOLKATA, Nov 3 (Reuters) – A new Bollywood film will use the July rail bombings in Mumbai that killed 186 people to examine the genesis of Islamist militancy in India and the patriotism of the country's Muslim population.
The Hindi-language film industry, the world's largest by volume and ticket sales, often makes simplistic movies about communal harmony, but seldom any serious examination of the problems of minority Muslims in India.
Its patriotic films are often a blood-and-gore rhetoric against arch-enemy Pakistan, which is blamed for fanning militant violence and trying to break up India.
"Live TV", to be directed by award-winning filmmaker Ujjal Chatterjee, promises not to play to cheap public sentiments, and instead, rely on documented history.
One of those facts — which forms a sub-plot of the film — is the story of young Kashmiri Muslims who fought invaders from Pakistan, months after the British colonial rulers partitioned India in 1947.
"Muslims in the (Kashmir) valley are very patriotic people and the movie will remind us all about a glorious past Kashmiris can look back on with pride," Chatterjee told Reuters.
The film opens with four young television journalists reaching one of the seven bomb sites in the western metropolis of Mumbai where they find people trapped inside trains.
The reporters, while following up on the story, find that dozens of Muslims are held on suspicion of involvement in the blasts. They try to find out if the suspects were being harassed because of their religion, Chatterjee said.
Hundreds of Muslims were rounded up and questioned by police after the July 11 bombings in Mumbai because investigators believed that Indian Muslims had carried out the attacks at the behest of Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is fighting New Delhi's rule in disputed Kashmir.
Indian Muslims are estimated to number about 140 million in a total population of 1.1 billion.
Bollywood stars Viveik Oberoi and Ashmit Patel are expected to play the male leads while Esha Deol or newcomer Sameera Reddy will be their love interest.
"Live TV", to open early next year, will be shot extensively in exotic locales in Kashmir and in crowded Mumbai suburbs, said Chatterjee. His earlier film, Escape from Taliban, about the true story of an Indian woman's flight from Afghanistan won critical acclaim.
"There will be lots of three-dimensional effects and computer graphics in the film, making everything seem real," he added.