Before the Bhopal gas tragedy, not much was known about the historical city outside the country. However, the 1984 disaster changed it all, as the incident – and along with it the city – made headlines the world over.
A lot was written in the aftermath of the gas leak, and it still remains the subject for several writers and filmmakers. While some books like Dominique Lapierre and Janier Moro’s ‘5 Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster’ went beyond the bookshelves and made a place in our hearts, there are several others based on the tragedy that found little mention.
Several books have also been authored by writers based in Bhopal. The latest offering is a ‘faction’ (fact+fiction) by paediatrician Dr Pradeep Kapoor.
Titled ‘A tale of two nights’, the book revolves around two incidents that changed the fate of Bhopal – the gas tragedy and the riots in the wake of the Babri mosque demolition in 1992.
Talking about his book, Kapoor says, “I was posted at the gas relief department and worked vehemently on documentation, categorisation etc of the relief victims. I was appalled to see youngsters without eyesight as their cornea had been badly damaged by the incident. All these made me weave a story around the tragedy.”
Another writer Swati Tiwari penned the poignant tale of the dreadful night. Born in Dhar, Tiwari is a known name in the field of development writing in Bhopal. She penned down her thoughts about the tragedy in her book ‘The Let Down’ or ‘Sawal Aaj Bhi Zinda Hain’. The book is based on interviews and interactions with dozens of ‘gas-affected persons’ and describes the situation as it was in 2010-2011.
“Happenings going around me inspire me to write. I was moved with whatever had happened,” she says. “A number of affected people still suffer from psychiatric diseases. Anxiety was the worst impact of the gas. Dead people still appear in their dreams.”
When authors spoke of the tragedy through their books, how could moviemakers lag behind! Several stories have been built around the tragedy and presented in form of films and documentaries. Some of the most popular and powerful flicks made on the sensitive issue include Bhopali, a documentary directed by Van Maximilian Carlson, based on the aftermath of the event twenty-five years later; A Prayer for Rain, directed by Ravi Kumar; and Bhopal Express.
Books based on the tragedy
Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A survivor’s tale by LB Thapa
Bhopal, Anatomy of a crisis by Shrivastava, Paul
Bhopal Gas Tragedy by Suroopa Mukherjee
The Bhopal Tragedy: What really happened and what it means for American workers and communities at risk by M Arun Subramaniam and Ward Morehouse
Surviving Disasters: Salim’s journey through hell (The never ending saga of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy) by Suroopa Mukherjee
Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Accident or Experiment by Brojendra Nath Banerjee
The Bhopal Readers: Twenty Years of the World’s Industrial Disaster by Bridget Hanna and Ward Morehouse
Bhopal-The Inside Story by TR Chouhan and Claude Alvares
Bhopal 2011: Landscapes of Memory by Amritha Ballal, Jan af Geijerstan and Moulshri Joshi
Impeachment by Anjali Deshpande