Free Expression

Pakistani classic ‘Jago Hua Savera’ is dropped from Mumbai Film Festival schedule

Organisers say decision has been taken 'given the current situation'.

A black and white arthouse film from Pakistan from 1959 has become the latest casualty of the jingoism that has followed the Uri attack September, in which 19 Army soldiers died.

Jago Hua Savera, directed by Pakistani director AJ Kardar, written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and featuring Indian actors, musicians and technicians, was to have been screened in the restored classics section at the Mumbai Film Festival (October 20-27). Not any more: “Given the current situation, the Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star has decided not to programme Jago Hua Savera as part of the Restored Classics Section,” said a press release.

A complaint filed by a non-governmental organisation called Sangharsh Foundation against the screening appears to have spooked the organisers into dropping the neo-realist classic from its programme. Sangharsh filed a police complaint on October 15 against the festival for announcing Jago Hua Savera as part of its lineup. “We don’t have objections to any other films but just don’t show any films from Pakistan,” said Prithvi Maske, who heads the organisation.

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‘Jago Hua Savera’.

Kardar’s film, produced by Nauman Taseer, represents a rare spirit of collaboration between undivided Pakistan, India and England. The movie is based on a novel by Manik Bandopadhyay and features the Indian actress Tripti Mitra and the musician Timir Baran alongside Pakistani actors and British technicians. The film explores the hardships of a fishing community in what is now Bangladesh. Its prints were missing for several years and were finally found by Taseer’s son, Anjum. The restored film has been shown at various festivals, including Cannes in 2016.

Maske drew a link between showing Jago Hua Savera at the film festival, for which entry is restricted to delegates, and the October 28 release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Johar’s movie has been facing a vicious backlash from right-wing groups because it has Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in its cast. A decision by the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India to suspend the release of films featuring Pakistani artists has immediate repercussions for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Unlike the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association ban on Pakistani actors working in Hindi films, which applies to future projects, the exhibitiors' organisation's directive has been issued against movies that were made long before tensions broke out between India and Pakistan.

Johar is one of the trustees of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image that organises the Mumbai Film Festival, and Maske tried to suggest that there was a conspiracy at work here. “If Jago Hua Savera is shown at the Mumbai film festival, then Karan Johar can justify releasing Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” said Maske, whose NGO had earlier filed a complaint with the Mumbai police against the actor Om Puri’s remarks about Army soldiers following the Uri attack.

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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.