Kids Corner


31st October:
A Film







October 31st, 1984 will forever remain etched in the collective Sikh psyche as that was Day 1 of four days of looting, rape and murder of innocent Sikhs in New Delhi, and across India, following the assassination of India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards.

It was Rajiv Gandhi -- Indira’s son who automatically succeeded her as prime minister by dint of his relationship to her and no other qualifications -- who gave the orders on October 31st, 1984 to his goons and underlings to slaughter innocent Sikhs without mercy, a genocidal attack not seen since the Mughal rulers against the Sikhs.

In the film, Rajiv Gandhi’s top henchmen – Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and many others– are seen instructing criminal gangs to carry out the massacres and providing them with weapons and gas to burn them alive.

(The committee that looked into charges against the guilty recommended registration of cases against H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Dharamdas Shastri and Jagdish Tytler. To date, none of them have been brought to justice; instead, they were rewarded with high cabinet posts in the government.)

The mass killings in the country’s capital and the rest of India constitute without a doubt a Ghallugara (Holocaust).

Producer-co-scriptwriter Harry Sachdeva dramatizes real-life events in ‘31st October’ – depicting the first day as it began normally for people in Delhi but became a hellish nightmare for Sikhs once the assassination took place and the wheels of motion were put into play by Rajiv Gandhi and his evil underlings and their goons on the streets.

The violence – expertly staged by director Shivaji Lotan Patil – is hard to watch even though it has been depicted in a number of other films like Babbu Mann starrer ‘Hawaayien’ and in ‘Amu‘, another fine film on the 1984 pogroms.

Many people in the audience were left disturbed by the sheer brutality meted out against innocent people only because the victims happened to be from the minority Sikh community and their only crime was that they happened to belong to the same community as Indira Gandhi’s executioners.

But the level of criminal intent of the mass murderers here is much higher since this was no natural outburst of violence but was highly orchestrated and carried out with such sheer cruelty that it would make ISIS look like a bunch of amateurs. It’s sickening and stomach churning violence and to think that this was the result of not some terrorist outfit or extremist group, but directed from the Indian Prime Minister’s office, a pillar of so-called democracy, and down through the rank and file, a real ‘Crime Against Humanity‘!

But to this day, despite so many enquiries, commissions and committees looking into justice for the victims – there is still no justice as Sajjan Kumar and other criminals walk free. The film rightly ends with the note, ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.’

Hopefully, this film will be shown to Western leaders and the UN so that they take this crime against humanity as seriously as they do the Jewish holocaust.

A real hats-off to the whole film team for constructing a great film on an important, if one of the darkest events in India’s history, with a humanist touch where not all Hindus lost their sense of justice and humanity -- some of them helped save their Sikh friends and brothers.

But the film can also serve as a wake-up call to all Indians as there have been other communal incidents of violence in recent times under the new government under Modi/BJP/RSS. It’s important not to lose our common sense and human dignity in the face of evil.

Great marks to the two lead players – Vir Das as Devinder Singh and Soha Ali Khan as his wife Tejinder Kaur– who bring real human dignity to their characters and survival skills where they not only have to deal with pure evil but also Devinder suffering from a medical ailment. The film gives you a real sense of dread and lets you experience what it felt like for innocent people living through such a horrible nightmare.

This is a must see film for not just Sikhs but for all who care about humanity!

Reviewed at The Vancouver International Film Festival.

[Courtesy: The Link. Edited for]
October 5, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), October 05, 2015, 4:14 PM.

This film must show everything, it must not be another over-acted drama piece. The film must show the Indian police spreading rumors over loudspeakers that Sikhs have poisoned the drinking water of Delhi and are distributing sweets over the death of Indira Gandhi. It must show the mobs using voters' lists and methodically attacking homes, even returning to spots that were missed on their list. It must show the violence against Sikhs, both men and women, in its full brutality. Delhi and other cities in India were turned into killing fields overnight and the inability to show the brutality of the mobs would be an insult which lessens the seriousness of 1984. This film must not censor truth.

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A Film"

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