Remembering Partition

a Lecture, 4 Documentary Films and a Panel Discussion

11 Aug '07 6:00 PM

Amar Kanwar's A Season Outside/ 30 mins/ 1998/ english

There is perhaps, no border outpost in the world quite like Wagah, where this film begins its exploration. An outpost where every evening people are drawn to a thin white line and probably…anyone in the eye of a conflict could find themselves here. A Season Outside is a personal and philosophical journey through the shadows of past generations, conflicting positions, borders and time zones... a nomad wandering through lines of separation, examining the scars of violence and dreams of hope scattered among communities and nations. 

Sara Singh's The Sky Below/ 75 mins/ 2007/ with english subtitles

 THE sky  BELOW 

From the shared, ancient history of the Indus Civilization, the people of the Northwest region of the Subcontinent have connections that go back millennia. In 1947, the partition of this region resulted in a legacy of suspicion and a profound inability to reconcile this political divide. In this feature documentary, a contemporary portrait of this region from Kutch to Kashmir, from Karachi to the Khyber Pass emerges by exploring some of the ground realities of the lingering fallout; and most importantly, if reconciliation is possible between two countries with interwoven histories, cultures, and faiths...after 60 years of strained relations and the ever-present, unresolved crisis in Kashmir.
Featuring (from both Pakistan and India) first-person stories from the time of Partition, as well as former terrorists, politicians, royalty, ordinary citizens, historians, and many others who share their insights of the past, present, and future of this volatile, yet emerging, South Asian economic bloc. The film features a particular focus on some lesser known aspects of the Partition, as well. Folk singers recorded live in their surroundings, found footage, reality based and conceptual location shooting, still photography, and some archival footage are merged to emphasize the contrasted realities which compose this culturally connected, yet politically disconnected, region. 


Yousuf  Saeed's Khayal Darpan (A Mirror of Imagination)/100 mins/ 2006/ with english subtitles 

In a quest to explore the impact of India's Partition on the classical music traditions of South Asia, a Delhi-based filmmaker Yousuf Saeed spent over 6 months in Pakistan in 2005. Travelling in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad - interviewing musicians and scholars, attending music concerts, and observing the teaching of music in various institutions, Yousuf not only documented some of the surviving practitioners and patrons of classical music, but also raised many vital questions, about cultural identity, nationalism, legitimacy of music in Islam, Pakistan's popular culture and its affairs with India, and the survival of classical music itself in South Asia.
This quest has resulted in a musical documentary film, Khayal Darpan, featuring some well-known as well as many lesser known but talented musicians of Pakistan. Divided into four roughly equal parts, totalling a 105 minutes, the film starts by exploring Pakistan's melodic past, especially in Punjab/Lahore where south Asia's most famous musicians of early 20th century performed before a highly discerning audience. It then goes on to explore how the 1947 partition of India affected the cultural traditions, especially of the classical music in South Asia. The film also raises many questions about how the classical music is going to survive in future, not only in Pakistan but in India as well, and whose cultural property it really is. More importantly, the film hopes to provoke the new generation of South Asians who are bent upon defining their cultural and national identities according to their religion.

Ajay Bhardwaj's Rabba Hun Kee Kariye (Thus Departed Our Neighbours) 65 mins/ 2007/ with english subtitles

While India won her independence from the British rule in 1947, the north western province of Punjab was divided into two. The Muslim majority areas of West Punjab became part of Pakistan, and the Hindu and Sikh majority areas of East Punjab remained with, the now divided, India. The truncated Punjabs bore scars of large-scale killings as each was being cleansed of their minorities.
Sixty years on, Rabba Hun Kee Kariye trails this shared history divided by the knife. For the first time a documentary turns its gaze at the perpetrators, as seen through the eyes of bystanders. While East Punjabis fondly remember their bonding with the Muslim neighbours and vividly recall its betrayal, the film excavates how the personal and informal negotiated with the organised violence of genocide. In village after village, people recount what life had in store for those who participated in the killings and lootings.  Periodically, the accumulated guilt of a witness or a bystander, surfaces, sometimes discernable in their subconscious, other times visible in the film. Without rancour and with great pain a generation unburdens its heart, hoping this never happens again. 



Ajay Bhardwaj


Amar Kanwar


Ashis Nandy


Paromita Vohra


Sara Singh


Yousouf Saeed