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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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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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.