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Memories Of A Forgotten War preview: Utpal Borpujari digs deep into World War II, Indian history

The filmmaker unearths a forgotten narrative and excavates memories of young Indian soldiers through tales of locals, army officers, war veterans, family members, and war museums.

Ramna Walia

Memories Of A Forgotten War is a cinematic archive of the fierce yet forgotten battles of the Second World War that were fought at the frontiers of Manipur and the Naga hills in northeastern India.

Thousands of Indian soldiers, who were part of the Allied forces, fought to keep the Japanese from entering India while Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) sided with the Japanese and saw the war as an opportunity to overthrow the British.

An estimate suggests that over 1,68,000 soldiers lost their lives and marked a decisive point of defeat for the Axis powers. Despite this, until very recently, the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal (Japan’s 'Operation U-Go') got little attention from historians.

Filmmaker Utpal Borpujari unearths the history of this forgotten narrative and excavates memories of young, brave Indian soldiers through tales of locals, army officers, war veterans, family members, and war museums. The film has been shot over two-and-a half years across Delhi, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland as well as Japan and the United Kingdom.

Borpujari captures the remnants of the war in the region — protective helmets, water bottles, artillery, cutlery — bearing an archive of memories of a war forgotten by many, and yet one that marks the region's history.

Why you should watch the film:

Memories Of A Forgotten War fills a critical gap in the history of World War II and brings to the foreground the history of northeastern India — the valour of the soldiers, the terrain and conditions of war, and the history of colonial India caught between the desire and will for independence and maintaining the security of its borders.

Borpujari’s use of interviews and spatial mapping of the terrain helps viewers retrace the battle that turned the tide against the Japanese while breaking away from a linear, chronological retelling of events. The film makes use of affective emotions and oral narratives and war archives to give a fairminded history of the event. So turn the calendar back to 1944 and catch this crucial film at the Woodpecker International Film Festival 2017.

Memories of a Forgotten War will be showcased at the Woodpecker International Film Festival on 9 November, 6.20pm, Siri Fort Auditorium II.

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Woodpecker International Film Festival