Film: Rubaru Roshni (Where the light comes in)
Cast: Avantika, Ranjit, Kia, Samundar, Sister Selmi
Director: Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal
Rating: * * * ½
A stirring real-time drama that revisits memories of crime, forgiveness and redemption through the eyes of its real life victims and perpetrators, this heart-tugging, empathetic assay packs a wallop. One of the real-life characters in this film says ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.’ – so the overall narrative is fashioned to give you an understanding of how forgiveness could be the only way forward.
The narrative for the first two segments interweaves between voices of the survivor and the criminal responsible for the grisly act of murder, exploring motives for their actions, moving back and forth trying to pan out an even ground for what is to come- eventual forgiveness, restitution and integration into the world outside their individual prisons. Svati’s year long, arduous accumulation of footage from across Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Mumbai is mainly concerned with focussing on the ‘Forgiveness’ angle.
So the depth is limited and the individual histories are perfunctory. While objectivity also lies truncated by the limiting aspects of this illuminating journey. The first segment is about a 30 something Avantika Maken revisiting her childhood horror of being orphaned (at age six) by an act of unhinged vigilantism by Ranjith Singh Gill aka Kuki, who was responsible for mercilessly gunning down both her parents Lalit and Gitanjali Maken – and then gradually easing into their coming to terms with what happened and how she eventually forgave the culprit, allowing him some window of redemption. The second story also follows the same pattern, this time the story is about Samundar, the killer of Sister Rani Maria and how he came back to humanity after his interactions with Sister Selmi (Rani Maria’s cancer survivor Sibling), fortifying their bond with the act of ‘Rakhi’ ever since. Both these stories make you want to applaud at the wonderful display of humaneness by the relatives of the victims while giving us an insight into positive aspects of the reformative process that our regimented justice system has largely ignored.
The third story relating to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai with specificity to The Oberoi doesn’t fit in well here though. Kia Scherr’s story of loss( husband Alan and daughter Naomi) has its heart-tugging moments but doesn’t culminate in an opportunity of redemption for the culprits – mainly because Ajmal Kasab and his team of terrorists are no longer alive and Scherr’s journey back to the city-of the-crime every year, is concentrated on healing its frontline warriors rather than giving the culprit a new lease of life. Hitherto largely unseen footage of the attack at CST and the drug induced confession by Kasab have shock value though.
Hemanti Sarkar’s smartly edited enumeration of pathos ridden moments keeps you completely engrossed and ensnared. This is a rare documentation of humaneness – one that elevates the experience of it to uncharted heights!