The Bastard Child

thanks to Bliss…


18 Responses to “The Bastard Child”

  1. Bliss:

    very powerful trailer.


    the problem though is that we often find these things ‘powerful’ when it’s about others or when it matches our ideological agendas. On the other hand when it’s about us then we suddenly never seem to be able to find the ‘evidence’ or when such is presented we decry it as fake or else we say ‘we didn’t start it’ or ‘we weren’t the first ones to do it’. Horrible atrocities were committed in what was then East Pakistan by the Pakistani military. Yet there are those on the other side of the border who are again never persuaded by the evidence, who think it’s conspiracy to defame them, or that the Bengalis in East Pakistan were traitors and deserved, on an on. Again the same set of mutually exclusive logical positions for one but more important the larger inability to take responsibility without entering into ‘negotiations’ where one then starts exchanging victims. So while there can be all sorts of ideological debates there are certain horrors that happen at a human level where we should all agree on the facts and not slink into our respective corners. If even mass murder and mass rapes are subject to ‘debate’ one might as well call ‘pack up’ on the humanness we otherwise pretend to represent.


    • this is such a true statement. agree with everything you’ve said here.

      as for the trailer itself…very dark but the subject itself is dark. can the movie be true to the story (facts as satyam says) and stay away from certain biases? we shall see.

      also, i am not familiar on this subject. but i do know Pakistan’s history (born in Pakistan) has been shady as hell. although I’m still proud to be a Pakistani because of what it originally stood for…the corrupt people have ruined this country and sold its soul many times during the past 50-60 years. there is no doubt a double standard, double faced, hypocritical set of people in Pakistan…but that is sadly true in many places in the world today.


      • To be honest I am never very interested in the ‘corruption’ argument. With all due respect this is a pet obsession in the Indian subcontinent. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious problem. It most certainly is at the scale at which it happens in these countries (and many others around the world). However this is different from an ideological issue. In other words you could have people on the right and left equally corrupt. This doesn’t mean they represent the very same things. The illusion that often exists is that once you remove these layers of corruption you gain access to sort of ‘zero point’ of politics where whether the right is in power or the left it doesn’t really matter very much as long as things are working well administratively and there’s no corruption. this is the worst sort of obfuscation. Even in Western countries where the State can often guarantee these basic efficiencies and ensure a certain ‘security’ most of the time and where these states have largely become technocratic ones the ideology of the ruling party still makes a difference.

        I am going to offer now an extreme example which nonetheless makes the point. Wouldn’t it have been great to have had a very corrupt, far less efficient Nazi system? Many more lives might have been saved this way! The same goes for many totalitarian dictatorships on the left where whatever disastrous economic policies they might have pursued they were painfully efficient when it came to rounding up people and sending them to camps or wherever.

        The corruption argument is often a way of avoiding politics or rather the responsibilities that come with one’s ideological choices. It also creates the fantasy of a lost paradise where things were ok before everything was stained by massive corruption. But my contention is that the original vision in some of these cases is deeply flawed and objectionable in other ways. I often use this argument but I don’t particularly care if Hitler was a super-efficient administrator. Wonder if his Jewish victims were as impressed by Germany’s economic miracle under him?

        All of this might seem very far from the Pakistan argument but there is a link. Since I usually offend Indian friends by being completely merciless when it comes to Modi let me know offend some Pakistani friends as well. I think the problem here was the original idea itself. Once you create states with those sorts of exclusive ideologies you make certain outcomes very probable. Hence the atrocious treatment of Hindu and Christian minorities in Pakistan. Hence the horrors of East Pakistan (here there was something more complicated.. it wasn’t just the relatively significant Hindu minority but the fact that racial and religious bias combined in a very toxic mix.. so even the Bengali Muslim was minimally suspect as being ‘half-Hindu’.. there was a merging of ‘Bengali’ and ‘Hindi’ in this sense..). All of this is never ‘necessary’, just a somewhat logic outcome beginning with a certain premise. Guess who the greatest not-so-secret admirers of Pakistan are in India? Precisely many ideologues on the Right for whom Pakistan is the fantasy of what they wish India to become. Essentially the mirror image of a ‘Hindu’ state and here they can never forgive Nehru for insisting on ‘secularism’ and a pluralistic state. They feel cheated ‘those guys got Pakistan and did whatever they wished to with the minorities, meanwhile we have to play nice with them’! One would think that Pakistan wouldn’t exactly be a model for anyone to follow but evidently not so within these quarters.

        And so these questions can be answered differently depending on the contexts but it seems to me to be a pretty good rule of thumb to ask whether an ideology is more exclusionary or less. Even if Pakistan had been the least corrupt state in the world that might not have necessarily spared those Hindu/Christian minorities (these days this even includes Shiite ones). The lack of corruption by no means guarantees a better society, it’s often the opposite. Again this doesn’t mean corruption isn’t a major problem. It absolutely is. But it never comes about within a neutral framework. The idea that ‘I as a voter just want the trains to run on time, just want the roads to have less pot-holes….’ all of this is an abstraction. No politician seeks power simply to be a bureaucrat even if they might pretend otherwise on the campaign trail. In fact some very sinister ends can often be couched in the banal language of bureaucracy and administration.

        Incidentally this entire comment isn’t just addressed to you. I am also responding to a whole set of comments in the other Indian political thread where candidly I think both sides equally miss the point.


  2. Qalandar:

    It’s hard to stomach this — very effective trailer; I hope the film doesn’t mess up the subject. It’s always striking to me how little non-Bengali Indians seem to know about 1971…


  3. That’s a disturbing trailer. Wonder how much is true
    Satyam–u have a point but If it indeed was true, the bigger question is how are such massive genocides under-represented in history and discourse?
    I actually didn’t know much about it and certainly not abou the ‘mass rape as a state policy’ weapon!!
    Why only certain ‘pogroms’ or ‘genocides’ get the attention of media/history and even the free blogosphere?
    On a related note– we are not even taking about the communist china here!
    What about the gross extreme goal directed genocide in Sri Lanka not been taken up on a more visible and vocal scale?
    What is the entire Tamil film industry doing about it barring few sporadic films ? Plz remind me if mani ratnam or ar Rahman or scribes like b Rangan have done about it?

    There is a ‘selectivity’ with which issues are picked up and no , only the American penchant for oil isn’t the cause of all such ‘selectivities’…


    • The Sri Lankan issue has been front and center in TN in every sense. It has constituted even a kind of ‘trauma’ in many ways. In fact there has often been this controversy elsewhere about the LTTE finding a rather too warm reception in TN. This came up even after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.

      On the larger issue there is always a politics of genocide, nationally and globally. It is unfortunately just true that not all victims are equal. Zizek once said that the Palestinians were the luckiest victims in the world because attention was always focused on them whereas no one really cared about the countless victims of the (ongoing) civil wars of Africa. he was quite right. This happens at every level. Which is why one should never accept the state’s definition of who a legitimate victim is and who isn’t.


  4. Maybe I don’t know the full details (& may need clarification by Satyam & other Tamil co), but I am reminded of somethign–
    While the entire Sri Lanka was burning and mass graves of Tamils have been recovered and foreign media entry gets banned by the lankan forces…

    Can the Tamil film industry not do somethign to ‘depict’ these events?
    Can’t the auteur mani ratnam use his creativity to the ‘right’ ends!?
    What about the musical maestro arr rahman (when he was not composing the commonwealth games crap video!)
    And what about b Rangan –well perhaps he didn’t get time form ripping apart the likes of krrish3, praise Thor !! Lol

    As for mani–
    Instead of gettin in the heat of things in Sri Lankan events—

    He chose an easier target
    He subverts Ramayana, depicts Rama as an insecure selfish hubby, and raavan as the ‘saviour’ and ‘wronged’
    And expected the Indian populace to applaud his technical finesse.
    Perhaps mani got the response he deserved there…


    • “As for mani–
      Instead of gettin in the heat of things in Sri Lankan events—

      He chose an easier target”

      One of these days you must watch a film called Kannathil Muthamittal.. An older piece of mine plus the ensuing comments might interest you:

      With all due respect I find it quite incredible that you engage in these statements when you clearly do not know the subject. Kannathil.. is incidentally one of Ratnam’s most well-known films.

      Finally on Raavan I’d say that this is very much a part of his cinematic evolution over two decades now. I think it can most usefully be seen as a kind of complement to Dil Se. In any case the Ramayana subversion here isn’t the ‘thing itself’. It is but the means to a larger commentary. Within his own Southern contexts the subversion isn’t even that extraordinary because the most canonical Southern version of the Ramayana is already pretty subversive with respect to the canonical versions of the North.


    • This is all true.


  5. “Kannathil.. is incidentally one of Ratnam’s most well-known films.”

    yeah saw it last year on Netflix (english version). was a very effective and moving movie. in my mind it solidified mani ratnam’s status as India’s best director of today.


  6. Satyam– just one ‘kannathil’ by mani & one film by Sivan on this burning issue of Tamil genocide? And way back in 2001/2?
    Don’t u think it was too little too lies given the enormity of the subject!
    Not only mani, but talking about Tamil and south directors in general.
    It’s like having concentration camps in the backyard in Sri Lanka & these people are roaming around looking for issues and creating subversion ( as in raavana) that isn’t entirely necessary/ relevant.
    And these are supposed to be the ‘serious’ ‘issue based topical’ film makers…
    And plz remind us if b Rangan has used his writing skills to highlight these
    What happened to their creative juices and ‘cinema as a weapon of mass change’ theorem.?
    Ps: perhaps it works only when dissing northern cinema/ Bollywood, worshipping Hollywood?



      There have been some other films too. It’s not a regular stream by any means but no industry in the world without exception does more in an analogous situation. Within commercial cinema though there are sometimes references to this issue as with a recent Surya release that delved into this quite a bit. But Tamil cinema has been socially and politically conscious in a variety of ways. One could ask how many Hindu films have been made on the Bombay violence of 1993 (oh wait it was Ratnam again!) or the Gujarat violence of 2002 (there’s the Nihalani’s magnificent Dev which deals with it without being too literal about it) or for that matter on caste violence and what not. There are always lots of ‘burning’ issues. As long as an industry accounts for them we cannot expect much more. And again contemporary Tamil cinema has been light years ahead of bollywood.

      Of course there’s something amusing about a Krrish fan who otherwise even refuses to look for more meaningful entertainment even within commercial cinema to suddenly get so hot and bothered about how many films Tamil cinema has produced on the Sri Lanka conflict! And who then decides to interrogate folks like Ratnam or Rangan without knowing (let’s be frank) anything about this subject! You didn’t even know Kannathil.. existed! Something quite crazy about all this! If I were you I’d first worry about Hrithik just getting SRK’s level of maturity when it comes to commercial entertainment. Later we can wonder if Tamil cinema is solving the world’s problems or not!


  7. For some reason, I just don’t go in some of threads. This was one of them …until I saw the link in Jai Ho trailer 🙂


  8. They hanged one of the perpetrators of this crime:

    I had not known the extent of these atrocities until I read about the political troubles in Bangladesh, which were resulting from the trials of these Islamist leaders and their roles in 1971. Somesone seems to have had the balls to make a movie out of it.
    The numbers of victims vary widely, from 26k to 3M. Im pretty sure that independent India has not seen pogroms of such magnitude.


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