Reprehensible Indian movie 

The_Bastard_ChildBy S. M. Hali

Indian propaganda against Pakistan knows no bounds. Its latest controversial production titled “The Bastard Child” is based on a deliberate attempt to rake up old wounds based on lies and false allegations. “The Bastard Child”, a 160 minutes’ duration Hindi film is supposed to depict events of 1970/1971, which led to the breakaway of the province of East Pakistan to become Bangladesh. In the recent past, Indian Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid has been vociferously demanding an apology from Pakistan for alleged war crimes during the 1971 war of insurgency waged by East Pakistanis. Sheikh Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh and the main perpetrator of the Agartala Conspiracy, which was hatched in the Indian border town in the 1960s at the behest of the Indians to dismember Pakistan.

Sheikh Hasina too is alleged to be working on an Indian agenda and reportedly, at the urging of her mentors, has fomented trouble with Pakistan despite the fact that majority Bangladeshis want better relations with Pakistan and look upon India as being responsible for oppression of Bangladeshis in the near past.

The release of the controversial movie has made it amply clear, whose language Sheikh Hasina Wajid has been parroting and whose theme she was propagating in casting aspersions on Pakistan.

“The Bastard Child” ran into serious production problems. The shooting of the film was supposed to take place in Bengal but its production unit had to relocate after only 8 days of shooting due to problems with the Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India, as there were issues with the amount of local hands hired to work on the movie. Filming mostly took place around Delhi and Haryana, and overall shooting for The Bastard Child occurred mostly at night to avoid problems. The production for The Bastard Child experienced further issues with the film’s release, as the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association did not approve of the movie’s title, which included the word “bastard”.

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The movie is Mrityunjay Devvrat’s maiden venture in producing a feature film. He had earlier been concentrating on the production of television commercials only. The focus of the movie is supposed to be the “liberation struggle” of the East Pakistanis, but major attention has been given to the alleged genocide by Pakistan Army and the claimed rape of Bengali women by Pakistani military, portrayed as an Occupation Army. The producer claims that he researched the topic thoroughly, which included interviews with various journalists, war veterans, and refugees.

He would have been credible, if he had been more objective and tried to bring balance in the script by also reading a history of the subcontinent and quoting from neutral authors like Sarmila Bose, a grand niece of the famed Bengali leader Subhas Chandra Bose. Her book “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” challenges the figures claimed by India and Bangladesh of victims of the alleged genocide and rape. Based on interviews of survivors on both sides of the divide, she brings into reckoning, a factor which the producer of “The Bastard Child” fails to consider. She amply and correctly projects that the insurgents, who now call themselves freedom fighters, commenced the atrocities by committing genocide of the non-Bengali settlers in erstwhile East Pakistan and the West Pakistanis working there.

The members of the Pakistani Army, who were slaughtered in cold blood by their Bengali compatriots, who did not stop the rape of the West Pakistani and non-Bengali women either have been conveniently ignored by the film maker. Devvrat never consulted Dr. M. Abdul Mu’min Chowdhry, a Bengali nationalist who actively participated in the separatist cause, and in his publication “Behind the Myth of 3 Million”, challenges the falsehood of Bangladeshi claims that the Pakistan Army slaughtered three million Bengalis. Citing an extensive range of sources to show that what the Pakistani army was carrying out in East Pakistan was a limited counter-insurgency, not genocide, the scholar discloses that after the creation of Bangladesh, an announcement was made to pay Taka 2,000 to every family that suffered loss of life where upon only three hundred thousand families claimed such compensation. Had there been three million individuals dead, their families would have claimed for compensation.

The film makers also fail to acknowledge the Indian role in the “Liberation of Bangladesh”. Pakistan has been making serious overtures to both India and Bangladesh for better relations but India has been spurning Pakistan’s serious efforts. The current government in Bangladesh appears to be toeing the Indian line. India machinations in dismembering Pakistan in 1971 are well documented. Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister in 1971, after defeating Pakistan, had declared “today we have drowned the Two-Nation Theory in the Bay of Bengal.” Bengalis, who had deemed India to be their benefactor in their “Independence” rudely discovered that the real intent of India was to make the newly liberated country another “client state” when it started interfering in its internal affairs as well as demanding its pound of flesh. Subsequent Bangladeshi regimes tried to be free of the Indian shackles and succeeded to some extent but Indian secret agency RAW managed to conspire and reinstall its surrogate, Sheikh Hasina Wajid at the helm of the government. After disastrous five year tenure, there was little or no hope for Sheikh Hasina to be re-elected but chaos, mayhem and conflict ensured the boycott of other political parties and for Sheikh Hasina and India to reclaim the control of Bangladesh. India should stop its plot to besmirch Pakistan. Recent events in Bangladesh in which Jamaat-i-Islami leader Abdul Qader Mollah’s sham trial and execution for treason and alleged support to Pakistan Army in 1971 and the sentencing of  four other Bengali politicians has already soured relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. The release of the reprehensible movie, with its dubious title, controversial and unsubstantiated theme is likely to add fuel to the fire. If we have live like better neighbours, India should reciprocate Pakistan’s extended arm for friendship.