Review Hindi

Rubaru Roshni review: Moving film about violence, forgiveness and healing 

Release Date: 26 Jan 2019


Cinestaan Rating

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Suparna Thombare

Director Svati Chakravorty Bhatkal's film follows the kin of murder victims and the criminals, and their respective journeys towards forgiveness and healing.

'An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind' is one of the most popular teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and director Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal's emotional documentary makes you take a deep dive into this simple idiom. Bhatkal explores what would happen if this circle of hate, violence and revenge is broken.

Rubaru Roshni follows the story of three individuals trying to come to terms with the brutal death of their loved one, the common thread being their choice of forgiveness over revenge over a period of time.

All three stories are set in three different time periods.

The first one, set in 1985, follows the assasination of Congress member of parliament Lalit Maken and wife Gitanjali Maken (son-in-law and daughter of Shankar Dayal Sharma) through the eyes of their daughter Avantika, who was only six years old at the time. Believed to be involved in the killings of Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Lalit was killed by Ranjit Singh Gill outside his own home in Delhi.

The second, set in 1990s, is that of the stabbing of sister Rani Maria from Kerala. She was killed by a farmer under the influence of two zamindars who were angry with her for empowering poor families in a village in Madhya Pradesh, and also for allegedly converting people to Christianity.

The third follows an American citizen, whose husband and daughter, members of the spiritual group Synchronicity, were shot dead by Lashkar-E-Taiba terrorists during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai's Oberoi hotel in 2008.

We often see these kind of stories, set against the backdrop of major social or political conflicts, in newspaper headlines, but seldom get an insight into the emotions behind those involved.

While these stories are extraordinary in themselves, there is nothing unique about the treatment of the documentary as such.

The director keeps it simple. The first person accounts, recreation of scenes, the camera rolling long before a shot is cut, old pictures, news footage etc - all the tropes are familiar. But it's the material, the people involved, the emotions and the core message of the film, that make the content standout.

Bhatkal and editor Hemanti Nayant Sarkar keep the narrative structure tight as they neatly weave together the footage of each of the stories captured over the years, developing a very organic and thought-provoking screenplay.

They first present the struggles of the victim's kin and the culprit of each of the stories. Then even as the law of the country takes its course, it slowly leads you into the varied human emotions of the parties involved.

They are backed well by Aditya-Nayantara's minimalist, but evocative musical score, and Shanti Bhushan's deft camera work.

Every conflict in the history of the world stems from thoughts of hate and revenge. As one of the protagonists in the film says, 'You are actually feeding yourself poison and expecting the enemy to die' when you hold on to these thoughts.

The message of Rubaru Roshni is clear: Could human beings find it in their hearts to forgive, so we can finally heal and move on?

Bhatkal chooses three stories that prove that the answer is, yes. And surely there are many more such tales in the world to be inspired from. Perhaps then we could all let go of some of the world's biggest tragedies and gruesome acts of violence, and move towards healing.

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