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Revealed: In 1974, LK Advani had accused "Garm Hawa" director MS Sathyu of receiving funds from Pakistan!

MS Sathyu
By Our Representative
“Garm Hawa”, one of the best known films made on the theme of Partition, was characterized by veteran BJP leader LK Advani way back in 1974 as having been funded by Pakistan. Revealing this on the occasion of the re-release of the film last week, its director MS Sathyu said, how political leaders could be “so irresponsible to make such statements without even seeing the film.” Snapped in the backdrop of travails of a Muslim family caught in the midst of Partition, Sathyu also revealed how Shiv Sena pressured him not to release of the film.
In 1974, Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray “held up the film’s release till he whetted and saw the film”, but “finally the film was released after he viewed it minus the team which was involved in shooting it being present.” Worse, he recalled, the flim was “denied film certification for several months”, and it came under the pressure of “intemperate objections from extreme rightwing forces like the Shiv Sena”, which “held up the release”.
Winning national and international acclaim, Sathyu won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration as also the Filmfare Award for both Best Film and Best Director. He told well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who interviewed him for Communalism Combat on Hilletv and www.sabrang.com, that the film is of “particular relevance today, given the current Indian regime that is characterised by a communal and fundamentalist outlook”.
“Questions on the ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ of Indian Muslims, the attendant discrimination in access to livelihood and enforced ghettoization and segregation echo through the powerful depiction, showcasing present day realities for Indian minorities that have in no way lessoned, 67 years after Independence and Partition”, comments Setalvad, commenting on the film.
Shama Zaidi
Traversing through interesting biographical details, including the emergence of the final script after the seed of the story was fashioned by Ismat Chugtai, well-known writer, Sathyu told Setalvad, “It was Rajinder Singh Bedi who told Shama Zaidi, co-scriptwriter, that the narrative of Muslims who chose to stay behind after Parition needed to be depicted on celluloid.”
“Kaifi Azmi re-fashioned Chugtai’s version into the epic political narrative that has Shama Zaidi’s unique touch as a writer”, Sathyu said, adding, “Many of the creative team involved in the making of the film, were part of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and its making a unique reflection of the contribution of the Left movement to Indian culture, especially cinema.”
The film was shot on location over 40-45 days in Agra. Over decades, until the late 1970s, several senior members of the Communist party actually turned to cinema as a means of mass communication. Made on a shoestring budget released by the National Film Development Corporation of India, “Sathyu meticulously paid back the principle with interest over several decades that he had initially taken for the making of Garm Hawa”, said Setalvad.
Sathyu even paid the cast like Farooq Shaikh and Balraj Sahni small amounts over a period of time. “Farooqsaab was paid Rs 750 and Balraj Sahni a total of five thousand rupees, that too after his death” said Sathyu.
Added Zaidi, who accompanied Sathyu for interview, “Cinema in India is not a medium for serious reflection or meditation, which is why we have few films on the national movement and barely five or six on Partition... Even the more realistic films like the epic ones made by Satyajit Ray depicted everyday life and bitter realities, not historical episodes and periods.”
“Today Hindi cinema, except for a handful of films, is completely disconnected from the realities of Indian life unlike the cinema in other languages”, said Zaidi, adding, “While the access to technology had provided a veneer to Indian society we are still steeped in the 1800s resulting in the crude, Amar Chitra Katha kind of Hinduism, typified by the political regime.”

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