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`Kaya Taran speaks about dilemma of identity'

By Our Special Correspondent



Sashi Kumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 1. ``There has been a strange reluctance to confront the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which, by conservative estimates, claimed around 8,000 lives. May be because it does not fall into our stereotype of mass violence. `Kaya Taran' is set against the backdrop of the anti-Sikh riots and the post-Godhra massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 which also claimed hundreds of lives, but it is not an attempt to frontally depict the violence or the killings, but to take a distanced look at the dilemma of nurturing one's cultural identity in a volatile, multi-cultural society," says Sashi Kumar about his debut film.

In the Kerala capital in connection with a preview of his film, Sashi Kumar told journalists during an interaction at the Press Club today that negotiations were on with a Mumbai-based distributor for the national release of the film.

`Kaya Taran' has been made in Hindi and the present proposal is to have it sub-titled in English for non-Hindi and non-Indian audience, Sashi Kumar said.

Violence contextualised

Sashi Kumar said his attempt was to contextualise the violence of 1984 with that in 2002 in Gujarat and see these as symptomatic of a deeper and more insidious challenge, the challenge from within, to the nation's multi-culturalism. "There are two types of identities: one is an identity that is aggressive and the other a cultural identity that must struggle to survive. It is the vulnerability of this identity that I have tried to look at," he said.

Hindutva forces

Replying to the possibility of the film's ending (where the protagonist resolves his dilemma of identity and wears a turban) being used by the Hindutva forces for rationalising their position on religious identity, Sashi Kumar said he was uncomfortable with the possibility of the film's ending being used for rationalisation of the Hindutva forces, but did not wish to have a dogmatic ending for his film. "I don't agree with negation of cultural identity from an ultra-progressive position," he said and added that he would `draw a distinction between wearing your religious identity on your sleeves and continuing with your cultural identity'. Sashi Kumar said he considered C.K. Janu one of the stalwarts of Kerala and had included a sequence showing the cover of Janu's memoirs in Malayalam as a personal tribute to her.

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