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Terror defines city for filmmakers

mumbai Updated: Oct 28, 2009 01:15 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times
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Terror has become an inescapable part of the city’s identity, judging by the short-film competition of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image festival, one of the country’s most prestigious film events.

Nearly half the 75 films submitted to the festival’s five-minute short documentary film competition, whose theme was ‘Mumbai — The Metropolis’, revolved around the 26/11 terror attacks or the 2006 serial train blasts.

“There are so many dimensions to Mumbai, yet if so many people have made films on terror attacks, it just shows how traumatic they have been for such a large number of people,” Shyam Benegal, the festival’s chairman.

The panel of judges has already shortlisted 25 films, which they will put up on a website.

The winner gets Rs 1.5 lakh.

“For people who are not from Mumbai, the terror attacks are now a direct reference,” said Swagata Sharma, 24, a freelance filmmaker in Assam, whose film ‘The Anniversary’ is on the shortlist.

“They seem to have damaged something in the city. A few years ago, I would have thought of Mumbai very differently.”

She thought of making the film because she lost a friend in last year’s terror attacks.

The friend was in a room at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower that the terrorists entered.

“Her last message to her husband and children was ‘I am under the bed; the terrorists are in the room.’”

In ‘Yeh Mera Mumbai’ (‘This is my Mumbai’), also on the shortlist, 21-year-old Mumbai student Shreela Nair looks at the terror attacks through the eyes of a six-year-old boy.

Her film shows the boy drawing a picture for a school project about the city.

The camera shows him drawing the Gateway of India against a sunny sky, then ripping it apart and beginning another, darker one of the Taj on fire.

“TV news channels repeatedly showed clips of the hotel on fire,” she said.

“Children, whose schools were shut, watched these images continuously for three days. They must surely judge the city differently now.”

Recently, she even overheard someone call Mumbai “a city of terrorists.”

Yet another film by Kokkat Paul Joji, 23, called ‘BO 06:25 S 00’, is about the local train that was torn apart on July 11, 2006 by serial bomb blasts.