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Iqraar Nama, a tale of love and longing in wake of partition

Film explores the trauma families underwent due to displacement after the great divide of India, Pakistan in 1947

Iqraar Nama, a tale of love and longing in wake of partition


Tribune News Service

Neha Saini

Amritsar, April 1

The popular phrase, home is where the heart is, largely means that one’s place of residence is where one’s foundation of love, memories and family are created or built. While watching filmmaker Priyanka Chhabra’s film, Iqraar Nama, one was made to experience the fact that families who migrated from across the border during the partition in 1947, left their homes and hearts behind, only to live through the trauma and pain of building a new home and memories through their lifetime.

Iqraar Nama (The Agreement), a film that Delhi-based Priyanka made four years ago, has been part of the Film South Asia showcase, a travelling film festival focused on highlighting films and stories from across the South Asian countries. The film was screened recently as part of Majha House Literature, Film and Performance Festival in Amritsar, in collaboration with Kuldip Nayar Trust and the Indian Academy of Fine Arts.

Through the story of protagonist, Charandas Bangia, a partition refugee from Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan) who migrated to Amritsar as a teen, the film focuses on documents and archives that he had saved of his house in Lyallpur and his memories of the lanes, his friends and his father’s business, everything that got left behind.

Through this journey spanning 74 years, Charandas Bangia shared how he collected the registry of a plot that his father bought and built a house on in Lyallpur, official documents of the home his family was given after partition, at the Chitta Katra, where his son and daughter-in-law still reside.

Every memory shared, piece of paper archived and preserved told this story of love and loss, of ‘home’. Priyanka, who said that she comes from a family that migrated from Pakistan, shared how as a generation which was oblivious to the pain and trauma of the displacement, her urge to trace the roots of her family and shared grief of many, prompted this feature.

“As somebody from Delhi, who grew up knowing not much about Punjab and the partition history, I wanted to explore history through archives from the perspective of the new generation. I wanted to see how history would look like through documents, archives and pieces of paper that these people, a generation that directly experienced partition, have preserved as remnants of the past,” she said. Studying film and video communication design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Priyanka set out with her idea and landed in Amritsar, at the residence of Bangia family.

“When we did not know about the larger conversations around the partition, a collective memory weaves history together through someone who has his memories. The film also comments on the various narratives you hear through history books, the mechanics of bureaucracy post- independence when these registry offices were in the process of assigning homes abandoned by their original owners during migration, to refugees who came from both sides, and the language the state used to communicate with the migrants,” she said.

The film uses interviews, documental archives interwoven with famous and celebrated pieces of literature to present a context to the audience. Excerpts from Krishna Sobti’s Zindaginama, Joginder Paul’s Khwabrau, translated in English as ‘Sleepwalkers’, present a critical commentary on people, who were left to experience trauma and madness in the aftermath of partition of India.

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