Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | July 16, 2012

War, people, film

Most people these days are not interested about anything that is remotely related to social issues, war, genocide, global politics that prevail in our daily lives. These are common occurrences these days and even though international media such as CNN keep reporting them, people find more solace in the positivity of a fake reality show.

I have also noticed a very dangerous attitude among people. Anything that remotely relates to conflict in Middle East or issues in the developing world are largely attributed to the lazy, uneducated, uncivilized people and their inept Governments/economic policies. Sadly, those developing countries have hardly ever done enough to resurrect their image to the world, so there is not enough to defend that there are thinking people around. In between deciding who is responsible for what, it is the common man who gets affected and has no place to take refuge other than in God.

There are lot of people here too who think in more humane manner and react accordingly but they are considered aberration in the society. Being human is a novelty in today’s time.

Personally, I am terribly affected by the Syrian conflict. Every day, so many people are getting killed in front of the whole world. As a viewer, I don’t even know how the genocide can be stopped. Is the solution yet another war to quash the regime? If not, what is the alternative? Should the world just wait, watch and discuss occasionally? What is my role?

In between these, we watched the Bengali film, Ami Aadu (I am Aadu).

Ami Aadu set in rural Bengal. It narrates the story of Aadu and her husband Suleiman.

Suleiman is an ambitious young man, son of a poor Muslim share-cropper and madly in love with his newlywed wife (from a Hindu Bramhin family). As with many young people in rural Bengal, Suleiman does not want to be a cropper like his father, instead he follows his friend to Iraq to work in a dry fruit factory. During his trips back to India, he brings gifts for his family and everything seems to go smoothly. Situations suddenly changed when the Gulf War breaks out and the family receives no news of either Suleiman or his friends. Exhausting all possible opportunities to receive any information, Suleiman’s pregnant wife decides to write to the then US President George Bush regarding her missing husband.

Though a love story, Ami Aadu depicts the far-reaching impact of war. While watching the film, I wondered whether anyone thought of the significant impact a war in Iraq may have on families in rural India. Of course, Somnath Gupta, the director of the film did and I must complement him for that.

Throughout the film various remarks are made which shows how common man struggles to understand the dynamics of war. At one point, Aadu questions why does America provide so much assistance to the developing world when it also wages war? Or Suleiman’s father wonders whether just because there are open fields in Iraq people are waging war? Or even Aadu questioning why civilians should get hurt when military are supposed to fight wars.

Ami Aadu has powerful performances by each and every actor. While Biplab Chatterjee, Mithu Chakraborty and Rudranil Ghosh are seasoned actors, the performances of new comers in the lead pair of Debalina Chatterjee and Samadarshi Dutta was exceptional. Credit must be given not only the actors but I must complement the cinematographer, music director and the editor for making Ami Aadu so appealing.

Last but not the least, Somnath Gupta deserves all appreciation for making such relevant and universal film. Throughout the film he leaves his mark. Not for a single moment in the film, you think of the characters as being foolish just because they live in a remote village. It is interesting that electronic gadgets have been shown as characters in the film. While the villagers use all possible modes of information accessible to them for communication (phone, letter, television and radio), they still cannot fathom why would war bring such unhappiness to them, when they have nothing to do with it. Note how Aadu in her letter to Bush questions his anger for Saddam, which is all set to ruin Aadu’s world!

Somnath very intelligently used a tape recorder as a character that brings the couple closer even when they are miles apart. In fact, in days of technological advancement, we perhaps have forgotten the beauty of recording someone’s voice and listening to it over and over again. The tape recorder exemplifies loneliness as well as hope.

Somnath never tries to get preachy in his attempt to narrate a story. His protagonists never take side, never blame anyone for their fate and never actually start complaining even in times of extreme adversity. In fact, the film ends on a positive note and both the main characters come across as very confident young couple.

I am not sure, how many people worldwide watched Ami Aadu but you would wonder why they wouldn’t? What if, a screening was organised for George Bush? May be it is too difficult and the producers have to pay a lobbyist for doing that. It is never easy to get a beautiful message across to the people.

Did the Indian government send this for an Oscar entry? I doubt they did.

Will it get recognition that it deserves? Probably it would get some recognition but it does need a wider audience to make an impact.

Will it be able to change the world? No it wouldn’t but such small steps as taken by team who created Ami Aadu may lead up to something bigger.

I don’t believe every time a director picks up his camera he shoots (or should shoot) a socially relevant film, but with Ami Aadu, Somnath Gupta has shown tremendous promise of being a thinking director. I look forward to his future creations.

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