Bengali films from India and Bangladesh that explore the Partition of Bengal and its lingering effects will be screened at a four-day event in Kolkata between August 16 and 19. The event, which commemorates the 72nd anniversary of the Partition of India, has been organised by the Kolkata Partition Museum Project.
Inspired by the Holocaust memorials of Berlin, the initiative was conceived in 2016, and announced in February this year.
The initiative aims to “memoralise, in the most comprehensive way, the specificity of Bengal’s Partition history and its aftermath; to emphasise the continuities between West Bengal and Bangladesh – in terms of language and literature, food, fabric, and the performing arts – and to encourage collaboration between them”, according to a press release.
Filmmaker Goutam Ghose is the chief adviser for the event. Partition chronicler Ritwik Ghatak’s Komal Gandhar will be screened on day one. The film looks at the progressive theatre movement in the 1950s. Protagonists from rival theatre groups are drawn towards each other because of their collective memories of the Partition, having left East Bengal to find a home in India.
Day two will see the screening of post-millennial films, such as Srijit Mukherji’s Rajkahini (2015), about the impact of the Partition on a brothel through which the Radcliffe Line is set to pass, Ghose’s Shankhachil (2016), which follows a Bangladesh family that lands in trouble after arriving in West Bengal for medical reasons, and Kaushik Ganguly’s Bishorjon (2017), in which a Hindu widow from Bangladesh falls in love with a Muslim criminal from Bengal.
On day three, films from West Bengal and Bangladesh will be screened. Leena Gangopadhyay and Saibal Banerjee’s Maati (2018) follows a woman from West Bengal who travels to Dhaka to visit her ancestral home. Supriyo Sen’s documentary Way Back Home (2003) follows the director and his parents travelling to their homeland in Bangladesh. The 2017 documentary Simantorekha, by Bangladeshi director Tanvir Mokammel, tells the story of the Partition and its effect on the people of Bangladesh and India.
The fourth and final day has two Bangladeshi titles. In Akram Khan’s Khancha (2017), a Hindu Brahmin family tries to move from the newly formed East Pakistan to India but is met with obstacles. Mokammel’s feature Chitra Nodir Pare (1999) follows a Hindu family which, despite choosing to stay back in East Pakistan, is compelled to migrate to India. These will be followed by a masterclass by Mokammel.