Saving Bollywood from harsh criticism, I will just get to the idea behind the movie directed by Vijay Raaz, ‘Kya Dilli Kya Lahore’. It’s a late piece, but don’t consider it a review. The plot is bigger than the movie.
Succinct Background: The movie is set in 1948. Firing ensues between the Pak and the Indian rangers. A Pak soldier is forced by his Captain to ambush the Indian Chowki and bring him the Delhi-to-Lahore tunnel plan file. They have been led to believe that Indians are digging one! Reluctantly the soldier marches along picking up his rifle.
On the Indian side, an army’s cook is the only guy left at the Chowki. He doesn’t know where other rangers are and is shitting bricks at the sound of bullets being fired.
Now these two guys, afraid of dying and short of bullets confront each other. They run, hide, fire shots, hurl abuses and start negotiating. Both face a grave predicament and cannot compromise their position against their own better judgement.
We learn during the movie that an year ago, the Pak guy used to live in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. After migrating during partition, he becomes a Muhajir in his new found land. The Indian guy had left all his wealth in Lahore where his family was well known. Here, he becomes a refugee, waiting for a start, serving in the army as a cook.
They are not fighting for their country! In their newly found nationalism, both are fighting for their existence. Separated by political associations, they are confused and a lot helpless. Their only motivation for fighting stems from the genocide that happened during the partition. We come close to the subject and reality. How shuffling of powers divided the country and cascaded into a genocide that made people fight their own. Some fought to serve their interest, rage made others who would not draw a weapon, join them.
To understand the situation consider if that were to happen today again and one of the states, let’s say, Maharashtra breaks loose, which would obviously happen because of the politics. The same things shall repeat. Maharashtra will become a new Pakistan for Indians, and soon it will be alienated and generations will wonder about the life in Maharashtra. Though Maharashtra won’t be anything like Pakistan, because “religion”, but history has shown (say Rwanda), differences can arise from anything. Ask those with the stamp.
Would we start to hate the ones we call our own just because of some imaginary lines?
The variables that form an official identity has less to do with the place of birth than people think! People fight for their survival, and for being accepted. Motherland feeling isn’t as ubiquitous. But it sure is a great way to trick humans into believing they are fighting for a greater cause. When that doesn’t work, religion takes its place or something else. You will always have to prove your loyalty by fighting for their cause.
Coming back to the movie. The two soldiers find each other entangled but can see through their motivations. The movie starts with Gulzar’s poetry that I cannot touch and ends the only way it was meant to be.
It was Vijay Raaz’s debut, and although most do not survive longer with such content, in Bollywood at least, I hope he finds his way.