The Materpiece: Children of War
BANGALORE: In one of the many mind-numbing images in this exceptionally vivid work on the ravages of war, the back of a truck is jolted open and out tumble a bunch of women one on top of another at a Pakistani prison camp for Bangladeshi women run by a despicable tyrant, who could be the Nazi mass murderer Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. But no. It's Pavan Malhotra, brilliantly evil and slimy as the man who believes that if Pakistani soldiers rape and impregnate enough Bangladeshi women, the separatists and freedom fighters would stop dreaming of their own homeland.
This is the irrational, blood-soaked ravaged Pakistan of 1971 when Bangladesh was born out of the most horrific violence perpetrated against humanity. Very often as I watched debutant director Mrityunjay Devvrat's stunning film, I was reminded of the great anti-Nazi films, like Alan Pakula's Sophie's Choice, Richard Attenborough's A Bridge Too Far, and Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards. I was also reminded of Nandita Das's Firaaq about Gujarat's 2002 genocide where a truckload of corpses had tumbled out. The difference is, the women who fall from the truck like trash from a garbage van in Children Of War are alive.
They might as well be dead. As these Bangladeshi women, played by actresses of various ages - from 12 years to 40 years, who seem to live every second of the agony, are raped repeatedly you wonder how low human beings can fall when given unlimited power. Rape as a tool of oppression has never served a more brutal purpose in any other film except Shekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen. And you wonder why the man or woman, who sits in the boss' chair in the corporate organization, is no different from the leery neo-Nazi from the Pakistani concentration camp who supervises the mass rape of Bangladeshi women.