Twelve years after members of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) abducted and killed social worker Sanjoy Ghosh, the National Film Development Corporation is set to release a bilingual film inspired by his activism and disappearance.
The film, Ekhon Nedekha Nodir Xipaare (As the River Flows) is expected to rake up a storm. For Ghosh – as a boatman who ferried him along with his four ULFA captors on July 4, 1997 testified in court later – was “punished for exposing the unholy nexus between contractors, militants and government officials in Majuli.
The boatman also said Ghosh was killed the day he was abducted. The prime accused, ULFA leader Mridul Hazarika alias Bhaskar Barua, was killed in an encounter on July 31, 2006.
One of the largest freshwater islands in the world, Majuli is the nerve centre of Vaishnavite culture in Assam. It is sited in the river Brahmaputra 350 km east of Guwahati.
But the film’s director, Bidyut Kotoky, insists the feature film in Hindi and Assamese is not based on the ULFA victim’s life. “This is a story of a Mumbai-based journalist named Abhijit who comes in search of a social worker Sridhar six years after he disappeared,” he said.
The backdrop of the film, though, is Majuli, where Ghosh had worked on low-cost anti-erosion ideas that did not allegedly factor in the “revolutionary donations” to the ULFA unlike expensive government projects.
Ghosh’s body was never found. Sridhar too has a similar fate, and the film draws on an Indian law that states “a person cannot be declared dead for seven years until his body his found”. It claims to be a work of fiction, but at the same time the promos say any reference to any person dead or alive is not co-incidental…it is intentional”.
Sanjay Suri plays the lead role of Abhijit, who too is abducted by militants one day. The female lead as Sridhar’s widow is played by model-turned-actor Bidita Bag.