Don’t miss your chance to see the partition film, Garm Hava (‘Scorching Winds’) on this Pakistan Independence Day, or a few days earlier even.
Made in 1973, the film focusses on what partition meant for those Muslims who chose to stay on in India – and was one of the first films to circumvent both countries’ nationalistic glossing-over of the horrors and trauma of that time, and engage with its human cost.
Set in Agra, in the aftermath of the assassination of Gandhi, it tells the story of a Muslim businessman who finds himself deserted by his customers, unable to secure loans, and ultimately forced to leave the family home. The disintegration of his life continues as, unable to find jobs and feeling caught between the two now divided countries, his family decides to leave for Pakistan after all.
The screenplay of Garm Hava was the result of a dream collaboration between some of India’s greatest literary figures and activists – poet Kaifi Azmi, writer Ismat Chughtai and Shama Zaidi. Still its production wasn’t smooth sailing. Concerned about its controversial content, the original backer pulled out. Public protests sprang up during shoots, so much so that director M S Sathyu was forced to organise decoy filming complete with reel-less camera to distract the protestors.
Once made, the film was banned by the Indian Censor Board on the grounds that it was an ‘instigation to communal dissension’. Undeterred, Sathyu took it around to government officials and journalists who were able to influence a reversal of the ban. The film went on to win the 1974 National Award for Best Film on Integration (as well as Best Screenplay).
A special film with a special story. If you haven’t already seen it, or even if you have, go check out what it was that caused such a stir.
You can see a fuller synopsis of the film here.
When: Friday 4 August 2017, 8.20pm/ Monday 14 August 2017, 6.15pm (includes a post-show discussion)
Where: BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT
Tickets: £11 (concessions available)
By Seema Khan.
Posted on 2 August 2017
Photo courtesy of BFI Southbank