27 September, 2020

Bloody Unreal?

War films are truer when realised via personal dilemmas

Bloody Unreal?
Back in the summer of 1982, the Indian air force had just stepped into its 50th year and as part of its golden jubilee celebrations, it decided to "actively support" the production of a commercial film that would highlight its "achievements" through the years. Thus was born the Shashi Kapoor-produced and Govind Nihalini-directed Vijeta, a film that had the 1971 war as its backdrop.

It was my first full-blooded war film. I have seen many since then, and at times wondered about the need for cinematic portrayals of war. After all, wars are a terrible business. But like all great upheavals, they must be recorded and interpreted for generations to come.

Vijeta did that, on several levels. Its vast canvas was populated with real people. It had a Sikh born and bred in Bombay as its central protagonist, a Muslim from Lucknow, a Christian from Bilaspur, a Hindu from Andhra and a Syrian Christian from Kerala, ensuring a pan-Indian character and identity. But most of all, it had a hero who was on a journey of self-discovery,...


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