As the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It would appear that Bollywood’s own philosopher-king Aamir Khan also believes this. Aamir’s own credentials in the field of history and the building of India as a nation are well-established with ground-breaking movies such as Lagaan, Mangal Pandey — The Rising and Rang De Basanti. He was therefore pleased to be at the DVD launch of Amu, which looks at the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
The riots took place in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi by a Sikh bodyguard. Gangs of youths bearing clubs, machetes and other casual weapons roamed the streets, mainly in Delhi, killing any male Sikh they came across and destroying property and temples. At least 2,700 died in Delhi alone with many of the official police forces standing by either disorganised or disinterested.
Amu, which stars Konkona Sen Sharma, tells the story of an American NRI who returns to India to rediscover her roots and meets with barriers and obfuscation at every point until she slowly unravels the mystery of the riots — it’s described as a first-rate detective story. Aamir said, “Amu is a heart wrenching story. It is an important film and is very relevant to our times”.
The film will never appear on television as the director Shonali Bose rejected the list of cuts demanded by the censors. Bose said, “We are very pleased that the film can be viewed on DVD. The cuts made in Amu for television by the censors were equivalent to banning the film. The Indian government is not shielding Indian youth from scenes of horrific violence — because there are none in Amu.”
A huge number of Bollywood stars have lined up to endorse the film including Naseruddin Shah, Vivek Oberoi, Jaya Bachchan, Mira Nair, Hema Malini and Aparna Sen. The movie won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film.