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The Power Of Forgiveness

Friday, January 25, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

'Rubaru Roshni', a feature-length documentary directed by Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal, and produced by Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao for telecast on Republic Day, is a moving testimony to the power of forgiveness.

It tells three stories of perpetrators of a killing and how one thoughtless act impacted their own life and the lives of the loved ones of their victims.

The first – 'The Orphan And The Convict' – is about the fates of Ranjit Singh Gill and Avantika Maken, whose parents he shot dead. Congress politician Lalit Maken was one of the many named in the genocide of Sikhs, following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Avantika was a child when her parents were killed and her whole life was blighted by grief and anger. Gill escaped to the US and spent over ten years in prison before being extradited to India and incarcerated in Delhi's Tihar Jail.

If the 1984 pogrom had not taken place, Gill would have gone to the US to pursue higher studies. While facing the camera for the film, he comes across as sober and dignified, while Avantika holds on to her grief. Then, the miracle happens. Gill's sister arranges a meeting between him and Avantika and she agrees to the procedure to get him pardoned and released. It is as if this act liberates both of them from years of suffering.

The second story – 'The Farmer And The Nun' – is about Samunder Singh, a poor farmer in Madhya Pradesh,  who is instigated into brutally stabbing a nun, Rani Maria, to death. Her sister, also a nun, finds it in herself to get him pardoned and adopt him into their family by tying a rakhi on his wrist. Samunder Singh is deeply contrite and repents his action.

The third story – 'The Terror And The Mom' – captures the unbearable sorrow of Kia Scherr, who lost her husband and daughter in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. There is scope for any repentance here, but a bereaved woman's wish that channelises her mourning into a continuing campaign for peace.

This film is a well-made and worthwhile effort.

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