Children of war weaves together four parallel stories – all interconnected in one aspect – the struggle of liberation in Bangladesh and the horror of tyranny unleashed on Bengalis across faiths in East Bengal by the Pakistani establishment in 1971,
As ordered by the Pakistani administration and trying to control the developing interest for liberation and making of a free Bangladesh, the Pakistani Army which was posted in Bangladesh was given supreme forces to run the nation in the manner they best regarded fit.
Aamir, a noted columnist, is assaulted by Malik, a General in the Pakistan Army and his wife ruthlessly raped in front of his eyes. Fida is taken, alongwith several other women, to a Nazi-style concentration camp where they will be impregnated with “Pakistani blood”.
Rafiq and his sister Kausar miraculously escape when the Pakistani Army attacks their village. They live on, with the hope of crossing over to India one day, when they meet a group of migrators. Aamir, meanwhile, gets in touch with a man (Farooque Sheikh) who is heading a small unit of Mukti Bahini.
Children of War stands out from other films made on the theme of Bangladesh Liberation War in terms of the extent to which human suffering has been portrayed on the screen. The violence unleashed on the inmates of the concentration camp, the inhumane torture, ghastly scenes of rape would rattle one’s conscience.
Pavan Malhotra stands out in his depiction of Malik, the cold-blooded Pakistani General who thinks he is serving his religion and nation by playing with the lives of innocents. Tilottama Shome, in her brief appearance, steals your heart away. Her death leaves you numb. Raima, Indraneil easily evoke the right emotions in the hearts of the audience. Riddhi Sen is stellar in his transformation from a young brother to the ruthless protector of his sister.
Director Mritunjay Devvrat deserves accolades for coming up with a film like this in his debut effort. The screenplay stands out as the mainstay of the film. Even the cinematography is spellbinding. I am not sure where the film has been shot, but it no doubt encapsulates the beauty of Bengal, even during troubled times. There are several rape scenes but at no point do they seem to be planted in the plot just to grab eyeballs; in fact, they successfully evoke empathy.
Children of War reminds us of one of the biggest genocides of human history, perpetrated by Pakistan with full support of the Western establishment. It also acts as a wake up call to all Bengalis, on both sides of the border, who have become oblivious of the history of the land. It also dispels the myth that Hindus were the only targets of the “holocaust” of 1971.
More importantly, the film helps understand that war for independence may have ended, but the struggle for justice has not.
Thank you Mrityunjay Devvrat for this great tribute to the Maati.
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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