Children of War (2014)
Director: Mrityunjay Devvrat.
Starring: Farooq Shaikh (Mojid), Victor Banerjee (Baba), Pavan Malhotra (Malik), Indraneil Sengupta (Amir), Raima Sen (Fida), Tillotama Shome (Bhitika), Riddhi Sen (Rafiq), Rucha Inamdar (Kausar), Shatrunjay Devvrat (Young Aamir), Joy Sengupta (Sudipto).
rape and religion used as war weapon in Bangladesh in 1971
A man is chanting Shloka, the basis for Indian epic verse. Sanskrit chants. A little girl calls out to Panditji asking him what's he doing? He is strewing ashes out in the forest. He says that this is his family and he is putting them to rest.
"Kill three million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands." Yahya Khan, third President of Pakistan from 1969 until the fall of East-Pakistan as a follow-up to Pakistan's defeat in the war with India in 1971
A student leader calls for justice for those murdered in war crimes committed by those being judged by the War Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh.
Flashback. [In 1947 Bengal in east India was divided into West Bengal, belonging to India, and East Bengal (Bangladesh), belonging to Pakistan. In 1952, dissent grew in East Pakistan against West Pakistan. In 1971, West Pakistan launched a military assault against East Pakistan, which started the Bangladesh Liberation War or Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. India helped Bangladesh. This resulted in the influx of millions of refugees to West Bengal, putting a great stress on the Indian state. The prime minister of India was Indira Gandhi (1966-1977).]
"In November, the Indian Prime Minister toured the world to explain again the gravity of the situation. In capital after capital, she pleads the Bengali cause. In Long, she has asked what can be done to stop the refugee accidents." Indira Gandhi states her goals in Bangaladesh: "Well surely that the massacre there stops, the rape stops. The burning of villages stop."
March 26, 1971. Dhaka, East Pakistan. Major Ziaur Rahman makes a radio broadcast: "This may be my final message. From this day onwards Bangladesh is independent! I call upon the people of Bangladesh! Wherever you might be and with whatever you have to resist the army of occupation till the last. Your struggle must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistani occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh. Final victory is ours. Joi Bangla!"
March 27, 1971. A man is typing out an article on the typewriter, while his wife impatiently waits for him to finish. He finishes up and gives the letter and article to a messenger boy. Then the couple have sex together.
As they lay in bed, someone rings the doorbell. The couple take a little too long to go to the door, and a group of men bust down the door. The messenger boy with them says that they made him do this . . . The boy doesn't finish his sentence because he is shot down by the leader of the group, who then has his soldiers turn on the lights, as he sits down in a chair near the bed. The leader says that the man has harmed Pakistan. The man gets loose from the two soldiers, but the leader stops the man. The two soldiers again hold the man, while the officer rapes his wife. Then the soldiers knock out the man.
Pakistani soldiers are killing civilians. Some of the people hide in the forest. A boy named Rafiq wakes up there in the morning. He asks his sister Kausar where are Abbu and Ammi? They went to get some food. After awhile, the two get tired of waiting for the food. So they go to find Abbu and Ammi. At night they find the site of a massacre.
At a Pakistani military camp, a truck full of captured women are brought in at night. They pull the women out and take them to be washed up. They are hosed down with a water hose. They are ordered to take off their clothes. They are then told to puts their clothes back on.
The officer that shot the messenger boy starts slapping the women around. Now we learn the name of the woman the officer raped: Fida. From the larger group, a group of women are taken and then shot down by the soldiers. The prettier women are put in a large barn type building.
The monster officer tells his men that the babies that they will make with the women will be Pakistan's children and maybe this will bridge the gap between the two parts of Pakistan. He then tells the doctor to make sure the women can have children. Those women who can't have children have no reason to live.
A young woman asks Fida (aka Dida) where are they? Fida says they are in hell.
Fida's husband, Amir, has a big bandage wrapped around his head. He says to a friend that they couldn't even find Fida's body. A group of friends, mostly journalists, come to visit him. They talk about the Pakistanis attacking them again. Amir wants to gather a big group together. Most of the people whose names he rattles off, however, have been murdered by the Pakistanis. Amir is stunned and says he thought he and Frida were the only ones. He then declares that he knows what he has to do.
Amir calls a good friend with influence and begs him to try to find Fida for him, even if it's just her dead body. He tells the friend that he can come to Dhaka (now the capital of Bangladesh and in central Bangladesh).
Amir rides in a bus that is solidly packed with families. The Pakistani soldiers take over the bus. They make all the people get off the bus. Amir remains in hiding on the bus. He uses a side door of the bus to escape from the soldiers. The soldiers tells the captives to run to the other side of the bridge. When the people run, soldiers from both sides of the bridge start shooting them down. Some of the men jump off the bridge and into the water.
Rafiq and Kausar are the only two left of a large extended family. They have buried their relatives. They see people coming their way and are afraid that it may be the Pakistanis. It turns out to be, however, that they are refugees running from the Pakistanis. The leader asks Rafiq if they could stay overnight with them. Rafiq says no, but then he asks what will they give him if he lets them stay for one night? The leader laughs and asks what could Rafiq possibly want from them? They have nothing. Kausar comes over and they agree to let the refugees stay.
Over night a woman, named Raziya, delivers a baby.
Amir comes to Dhaka. He visits his influential friend who has been writing criticisms of the Indian government for not intervening to help Bangladesh. Amir understands, however, that he can't stay with his friend or else the friend could be harmed.
Baba, the leader of the refugees, asks Rafiq to come with them. He says they are going to Charghat, the place where Rafig's father told him to go. Rafiq just remains quiet. The refugees leave the village.
Imprisoned, Fida tries to keep her spirits up, in spite of being used as a sex slave.
At the same time, her husband tries to keeps his spirits up too. He still has hopes that Fida is alive.
Rafiq and Kausar go with the refugees.
The psychopathic Pakistani officer shoots a woman prisoner down for being outside the barn.
In a friend's courtyard, Amir says that he can still fight with the power of the pen. He wants to tell the whole world about the cruelty of the Pakistanis. He receives news that the new Bangladesh government has been formed last night in Boidanathola by the Awami League. Their first president is Bongabondhu, who will be named Mujibnagar. Everyone is so happy. There is a loud knock at the door. Amir and another man hide. Three toughs come in looking to harass Amir's friend, Mojid Sahb. The leaders loves intimidating the owner of the house. Amir and the other friend now shoot down two of the harassers. That leaves only the power-hungry leader, but now he no longer looks so tough.
The refugees are still walking. Rafiq walks ahead of the group and he spots trouble. He runs back to Baba to tell him that the Pakistanis are up ahead. Baba tells his people to spread out and hide. The people hide but the empty wagon pulled by the cows just keep going. Two Pakistanis in a jeep arrive. The bastards shoot the cows and then ride on in their jeep.
A woman named Raziya, in keeping her baby quiet, held her hand over his nose and mouth too long and the baby suffocated. She cries over the baby's dead body. She later talks with Kausar saying to her that her parents' house was destroyed, her husband's house was burned down and her son died before he even knew what a home is.
Baba and his refugees spend that night in Gopalpur. Now they will head out for Charghat. But that morning the refugees are fired on and Raziya is killed. It's the Pakistanis again. They aim to kill all the refugees. Baba is shot down. On the ground, he says: "Between those beheadings, squirting blood and wailing women, I saw innocence, die an innocent death." Rafiq grabs a pistol from one of the soldiers and shoots the soldier six times. The Rafiq gets a large stone and starts bashing the man's head in. Baba dies.
Rafiq saves his sister. They seem to be the only survivors of still another massacre. There are many other massacres like this.
Mojit Sahb starts slapping his harasser around. He wants to know why have so many innocent Bangladesh lives been lost? He says this is because of the harasser. A girl named Bhitika comes into the room. She has strapped to her body a number of pistols an knives. She tells Mojit that two Pakistani officers will pass by Kharkharia Mor. She also has grenades with her. Bhitika wants to attack the Pakistani camp in the area. Amir and two other men go with her.
Bhitika was a big fan of the writings of Amir. She says his writings gave her courage to do what she has been doing for the revolution. She asks him if he will write about the women of Bangladesh fighting for their country? Amir thinks about that.
The four liberation fighters plant a land mine right in the middle of a path. As they wait to ambush the Pakistanis, Bhitika says she read about what happened to Amir. Amir shows her a photograph of Fida and the young girl says Fida is still alive.
The land mine goes off destroying a Pakistani truck. Now Bhitika says that she has to go back for more ammunition and information. Before going she tells Amir that she saw Fida in Dhaka. "She was nothing more than a living corpse."
Fida tries to help a woman out of her mind. While trying, the woman is shot dead by a guard. Now Fida is given the job of burying the woman. Bhitika talks with Fida. She says she saw her photograph today. Bhikita then says they killed two Pakistani officers today. She adds that she steals arms and ammunition from the armory. And, finally, she uses Fida's name. Fida asks her how did she know her name? Because Amir told her. Fida thought Amir was dead. Bhitika tells Fida that Amir works with the Mukti Bahini. Fida is ecstatic about the news.
Rafiq and Kausar are given food at a family's home. Rafiq tells the blind wife that they are going to Charghat.
August 14, 1971. The monster officer gives his men a pep-rally talk.
Mojit's harasser names the names of the Pakistanis he has been working with. Their names are: Raziul, Ghulam Mohammad, Sultan, Ali, Rehman, Quadir, Ashraful, Shamsuddin, Imitiaz, Ansari, Razizu, Khadir, Abdullah. One by one these men are assassinated. Amir tells Mojit that he hopes Malik's name is on the list.
Now the Pakistanis want to know who are the Dhaka guerillas? The monster officer uses torture to try to get a prisoner to name names of the guerillas. He even urinates on the prisoner. At night Fida and Bhitika give the prisoner some water.
Rafiq and Kausar use a boat to go down to Charghat. They reach their destination.
Fida loads up Bhitika's body with weaponry from the armory. But this time Bhitika is caught. Now she has to face the monster. And he is going to make an example of Bhitika in front of all the women prisoners. Bhitika is staked down to the ground. The monster is going to rape her in front of everyone. After that she is repeatedly raped by other soldiers. The last thing done is that Bhitika is shot and killed. The women have to stand outside all night long near Bhitika's body.
Rafiq and Kausar near the border with India. Rafiq goes off the path to be in private. There he sits down and cries. Kausar catches up with him, but gives him his privacy. When Rafiq feels better, he rejoins Kausar.
Monster officer is bushwhacked and taken prisoner. Mojit tells the monster that it's actually Pakistan who has lost. Mukti Bahini and the Indian forces have reached Chandpur. The monster says that Pakistan has the backing of America. Amir tires of listening to the monster and shoots him dead.
Chandipur, Jessore, Chittagong have all been liberated.
Mojit says they are attacking the cantonment tonight, which should be their last action of the war.
Rafiq and Kausar see the border and the flag of India. Fida is very pregnant now. The Pakistanis spot Rafiq and Kausar. Rafiq is shot in the back as he crosses a stream. He was about a yard from the border with India.
Fida is about to cut her wrists when the attack on the cantonment begins. Fida helps get the women up and out of the barn. Amir fights a Pakistani soldier with his fists. Fida sees Amir fighting with the soldier. Amir finally gets to his pistol and shoots the soldier as Fida watches him. The couple stares at each other for awhile. Fida thinks her husband is rejecting her and turns to leave, but Amir grabs her hand.
Back to the present. The young man shouting out for justice to the young people turns out to be Amir's son. The two men hug each other.
"It is estimated that over 400,000 women were raped and over 3 million people were killed in a period of 9 months. On December 16, 1971, the Pakistani army was expelled from Bangladesh. The war crimes tribunal was set up in 2009. It is still opposed by extremists around the world. February 2013 saw an unprecedented mass movement supporting the function of the War Crimes Tribunal. They still ask for maximum punishment to be given to the Razakars." [The Razakars were the paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.]
Another film about war crimes, this one set in Bangladesh when it was fighting to become independent from Pakistan. The Pakistanis committed a lot of massacres of innocent Bangladeshis. The film follows the lives of a husband and wife (Amir and Fida), an orphaned brother and sister (Rafiq and Kausar), a group of Bangladesh refugees led by a man named Baba and a sadistic Pakistani commander. We see one atrocity committed after another by the Pakistanis, but the Bangladeshis keep seeking refuge and keep fighting the Pakistanis. Bangladesh, of course, finally gets its independence. The acting in the film was good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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