New Delhi, 31 Aug 2022 20:00 IST
The short documentary delves into ways of accessing the past and the relevance of relationships left behind in the wake of the Partition of India.
The Partition of India created an indelible mark, not just on the country but on the psyche of the people faced with the decision of staying in a land they had always known or moving to a country newly formed along religious lines.
Directed by Mohd Fehmeed and Zeeshan Amir Khan, the short documentary Ruuposh, which translates as something that lies hidden, accesses memory and a disquieting past to think through what it means to be living in contemporary India.
The film features Ruksana Begum and her son, Mohd Fehmeed, who have spent their entire life in India. Ruksana’s father, Mehboob Khan, chose to stay back in India at the time of Partition, while his entire extended family decided to move to the newly formed Pakistan. Over time, although the families expressed great desire to keep meeting one another, relationships eroded and the distance, aided by political and geographical realities, kept widening.
Fehmeed deploys the epistolary form to contemplate the sentiments of his family living across the border. He wonders about the hard choice made by his grandfather, along with his position as a Muslim living in Shaheen Bagh, Delhi and studying in Jamia today.
“I was born here and my bones will be interred here," his grandfather asserts, but the film leaves us wondering if Fehmeed can make that assertion given the political reality of his own country.
As a son trying to access his family's history, Fehmeed sifts through remnants of the past through old photographs and oral narratives of his mother. Although the film takes a bit of time to gather momentum, Ruuposh is a heartfelt exploration of what it means to be a Muslim in India.
The cinematography by Al Ameen and Mohd Althaf, captures the intimacy of the family, its hopes and anxieties, while the music heightens the poignancy of their questions.
Raising pertinent issues through its earnest portrayal of the family, the film foregrounds the emotions of people like Fehmeed, who voices his uncertainty about the present and the creeping fear that haunts his mother.
Ruuposh was screened as part of a three-day film festival on 75 years of Partition organised by Kriti Film Club in New Delhi.