Parzania: Death of humanity in Mahatma’s land

Film on Gujarat riots gets green signal; to be released this Friday

Almost five years after Gujarat riots of February 2002, a gutsy English-language feature film that looks at the communal carnage through the eyes of a real-life Parsi couple whose only son went missing during the conflagration, is ready for release after a protracted battle with the censors and apathetic distributors.

Parzania, produced and directed by Rahul Dholakia, has done the rounds of film festivals over the past two years, but could not find takers until the director and the film’s co-producer, KB Sareen, floated their own distribution company to release the film in Mumbai, Kerala and Gujarat. PVR Pictures is distributing Parzania in Delhi, Nizam and the Central Provinces. The film is due to hit the screen on January 26.

Says Dholakia: “The film is based on a true incident, as my friend Dara Mody’s son went missing that day. Just days before, we were flying kites in Ahmedabad. Azhar loved flying kites. Dara has been looking for his son ever since.”

“My reason to do the film is moral and social,” says Dholakia. “I feel responsible for what happened that day. All of us need to share responsibility.”

The director, who spoke to the press along with lead actors of the film, Sarika and Naseeruddin Shah, however has chosen to create fictional characters, seeking to portray that any average person could go through due to the atmosphere of hate. “If this could happen to someone from the most peace-loving of communities, we are all vulnerable,” he says.

The film is being released with ‘minor’ audio cuts imposed by the censors, assures the director, though he adds that the film had also gone to a 14-member revising committee, which cleared the film with an ‘Adult’ certification.

Dholakia and his cast downplayed the controversial elements of the film, choosing instead to focus on the ‘defeat hate, celebrate unity’ theme. However, those who have seen the film vouch that Parzania is a politically charged film, and apprehend an uneasy ride at the box office.

Interestingly, the film, which tells the story of a projectionist Cyrus, his wife Shernaz, son Parzaan and daughter Dilshad, is seen through the eyes of Allan (Corin Nemec), an American visiting Ahmedabad to research on Gandhi while fighting his own demons.

Dholakia also plans to release the film in the US and UK, “once has recovered some money.” The film drained me “physically, financially and emotionally,” he says.

Original article here