for Calcutta Telegraph on Oct. 25, 2007
Iskcon has turned its personal experience of the reality of terrorism into a reel weapon in the fight against terror across the world.
A year after an act of violence sullied its precincts midway through a Janmashtami function, the management of the Iskcon temple in Imphal has produced a documentary that it hopes will hold a mirror to practitioners of terror. The 23-minute film, aptly titled 'Karigi?' [English: Why?], documents the bomb attack that killed eight persons during a Ras Lila performance on August 16 last year. Among those who died in that attack — about 50 more, including foreigners, were wounded — was international spiritual leader Damodara Swami.
“Before passing away, our Swami (Damodara) advised us to make a film in such a manner that those behind the attack realise their folly and repent their actions after watching the human tragedy caused by them,” producer Ajit Das, who is the director of the temple, said.
Bachaspatimayum Sunzu, who produced an award-winning documentary on the Armed Forces (Special Powers), directed the Iskcon venture.
The film has no narration and footage of the terror strike. It tells the story through the comments of some of those who were wounded that night and the relatives of the victims.
“Our film is meant to encourage people across the world to ask the question: why spill the blood of innocent people?” Das said.
The film was released on Sunday at the Manipur Press Club auditorium and is in line for screening at film festivals in the country and abroad. “We have sent prints to Vietnam, Singapore and Philippines for film festivals there. We have also applied for entry into the Mumbai International Film Festival next year.”
The fact that the director of the documentary was in the temple when the blast rocked the temple adds to the evocativeness of the film. “I was just as traumatised as anybody else who was there that night and I wanted to question why this happened through a film,” Sunzu said.
The documentary will be screened in front of 1,000 devotees from 20-odd countries when they assemble at the Iskcon complex on November 21 for the inauguration of a newly constructed temple. The management plans to gift a copy of the film to each of the foreign delegates for screening in their respective countries.
“We believe that if more people start asking the same question, the frequency of terror strikes will lessen. That will be the turning point in the journey towards peace,” Das said.