Free Press Journal

Children of War: Not poignant enough


Film: Children of War
Cast: Pawan Malhotra, Farouque Shaikh, Tilotama Shome, Raima Sen,
Director: Mrityunjay Devrat

Mrityunjay Devrat’s attempt at creative representation of subcontinent history, is powerfully poignant – especially the parts where he is able to depict the ravages of war but the narrative feels just a little too disjointed and haphazard to be able to gain complete capitulation from its audience.

The Bangladesh war has mostly been forgotten by Bollywood. There hasn’t been any major representation on that eponymous moment in history in cinemas of India, so this one is a welcome first. Unfortunately, the film takes too pointed a view on evil and fails to do complete justice to events that conspired to the liberation movement.

So the most mind-numbing image from the film is one that curdles the mind- a bevy of women fall out of a truck headed to a Pakistani prison camp run by an evil jailor played venomously by none other than Pawan Malhotra. The character he assays believes that if

Pakistani soldiers rape and impregnate enough Bangladeshi women, there wouldn’t be any cause for a separate homeland. So the evil keeps on replaying.

Pakistan, circa 1971, bloodied and shell-shocked, with helpless people struggling to stay alive at any cost. The sight is pitiful and angering. Women and children are treated abominably and the pain and anguish on their faces is deeply entrenched. The sight is gory and the acts reprehensible. It happened. Yes. But did it have to be told with so much vapidity?  That’s relly the problem here. Too much concentration on the evils that befell the helpless and less enactment of the drama that ensued behind the scenes. The performances are all quite impactful but the disjointed narrative track leads to discontinuous engagement. At best this is a poignant depiction but not exactly a potent one!