Kya hua is shehar ko?

Director: Deepa Dhanraj 90 ‘/1986/ Dakhani & Telugu, with English subtitles

A pioneering political work of contemporary relevance: Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in 1984 forms the starting point for this film, whose complexity lends it immense political force. The film’s historical perspective is provided by a thorough commentary, which gives the camera’s particular presence the necessary depth and complexity. The mechanisms of political power struggles, the dynamics among those that hold power, and the instrumentalisation of economic relations and urban poverty make for a striking analysis, uniquely anticipating the subsequent development of communalist conflicts and the politics of marginalisation. The immediacy achieved by filming just as violence is unfolding juxtaposed with calm observations of the devastating consequences of living one’s life during a state of emergency, thus reaching a level of respectful lyricism and contemplation that make the film much more than just a worthy reportage.

Kya hua is shahar ko?  was specially restored and digitized by the Living Archive Project of the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art in Berlin and released  anew in June 2013.

Deepa Dhanraj is an award winning filmmaker who has been actively involved in the women’s movement since 1980. Over the years, she has participated in workshops, seminars and discussion groups on various issues related to women’s status – political participation, health and education.

Deepa has an extensive filmography spanning nearly three decades that include many series of films on education and health as well as award wining documentaries.

‘Enough of this Silence’ (2008) , The Advocate’ (2007), ‘Nari Adalat’ (2000), ‘Itta Hejje Mundakka Thegiya Bediri Hindakka’, a series of 12 films for elected women in Gram Panchayats (1995), ‘The Legacy of Malthus’ (1994), ‘Something like a War’ (1991), ‘Kya Hua Iss Shehar Ko’ (1986) and ‘Sudesha’(1983), are a few of her films. Her films have traveled to numerous film festivals world wide.

Writer: Keshav Rao Jadav

“ It is an intense experience seeing the film after 27 years,” Dhanraj said at the Berlin screening. “It’s like meeting a younger version of the film. This film was prophetic in addressing the rise of Indian fascist politics. You see the formation of the fundamentalist Hindu and Muslim identities in Hyderabad in 1984 when the film was shot—and by the 1990s, the Hindutva national project was complete. In 1992, the Babri Masjid was demolished, and in 2002, over 2,000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat by Hindu mobs. We intuitively saw this when making the film, but we couldn’t yet see what the Hindutva agenda would eventually become.” Hyderabad Ekta, founded by Keshavrao Jadhav, to work on communal harmony, held many screenings of the film in Hyderabad’s Old City, largely a Muslim ghetto. “The communities are so polarised, it was also important for victims from both communities to know the others’ sufferings. The film became a bridge between the two communities,” she explained.