Kya Hua Is Shahar Ko?
A pioneering political work of contemporary relevance: Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in 1984 forms the starting point for this film, whose complexity lends it immense political force. The film’s historical perspective is provided by a thorough commentary, which gives the camera’s particular presence the necessary depth and complexity.
The mechanisms of political power struggles, the dynamics among those that hold power, and the instrumentalisation of economic relations and urban poverty make for a striking analysis, uniquely anticipating the subsequent development of communalist conflicts and the politics of marginalisation. Kya Hua Is Shahar Ko? has been digitalised, restored and screened again for the first time in 27 years as part of the Living Archive project. A DVD including additional historical and contemporary material was released in June 2013.
About the Director
Deepa Dhanraj is a writer, director, and producer living in Bangalore, South India. She studied English Literature in Madras University. She has produced and directed numerous award-winning documentaries, Something Like a War (Channel 4); The Legacy of Malthus (BBC 2); Sudesha (Faust Film/ARD). Nari What Has Happened to This City? and Adalat/Women’s Courts. The films have been screened on ARTE, CBC, and SBS. Her films have been invited to festivals such as IDFA, Berlinale, Leipzig, Oberhausen, and Films de Femmes, Creteil France, Tampere, Vancouver and Chicago. She has a special interest in education and has created special video materials to address challenges faced by first generation learners.
I am from Hyderabad and at the time I was close to members of a group called “Hyderabad Ekta” who were working on promoting communal harmony in the old city. The group comprised of activists, academics, intellectuals and residents of the old city. From 1980, the BJP had started holding massive Ganesh processions in the city. Hyderabad Ekta noticed that communal riots inevitably broke out either during or after the Ganesh processions. They felt that making a documentary film that could promote harmony and understanding between communities would be useful for their work and felt that it would be good to start with filming the Ganesh procession and trying to understand why thousands of Hindu youth were attracted to participating in it.
The film was shot in Hyderabad in 1984. As we were filming the Ganesh procession, a communal riot broke out and continued for 22 days. At the same time the Governor who was a Congress appointee, dismissed NT Rama Rao’s Govt. and appointed Nadendla Bhaskar Rao as the chief minister (CM). The BJP supported NTR and the Majlis Ittehadul Musalmeen supported the new CM who was being supported by the Congress. NTR asked for one day to prove his majority, the Governor gave the new CM a month for the same task. NTR removed his MLAs to a resort so as to keep them safe from temptation. The riots continued till the vote of confidence was placed in the Assembly to test the new CM’s majority. He could not summon up the numbers and NTR returned as the CM. During that period, hundreds of shops and homes were destroyed and many people lost their lives.
We were filming for 22 days meeting victims of violence, politicians from the BJP and the Majlis amongst others. While editing the film we decide to tell a complex story that would include a historical perspective, analyse political dynamics and show the suffering on daily wage workers, who were pushed into destitution by long periods of curfew.