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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru playing cricket, Indira Gandhi at Red Fort, and Rajiv Gandhi in his role as the Indian Prime Minister. These are photographs that appear in different sections of filmmaker Arun Kuckreja's latest short film, My Dear Nehru, even as a slow classical piece by Pt Ravi Shankar plays in the background. Through photographs and voice-recordings of speeches made by them and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (Nehru's sister), the film features the lives of the three prime ministers.
With his son and assistant director, Raghav, Kuckreja researched for almost six months before starting the project. The 32-minute film, for which Sunando Mazumdar has done the photography, will release later this month in select theatres in Delhi and at India Habitat Centre.
"Most of the material, including pictures of the first family, was sourced from the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund. The idea was to showcase the impact that the family had on shaping the nation. They gave us three prime ministers of which two of them were assassinated while in office. And even in modern times, they have played an important role in developing the country. The movie is a tribute to that," says Kuckreja.
The film has Nehru's famous speeches in his voice, such as "A tryst with destiny" and "The light has gone out", among others.
Kuckreja mentions that the real challenge after collecting the photos was in digitising them. "They were black-and-white shots, so converting them for the big screen was not easy. More than that we wanted to also use colour. For instance, when the speech, "The light has gone out" plays in the background, the music stops and the screen fades to red, and then shows pictures of Gandhi's mortal remains being carried out. When you are telling a story in a pictorial form without dialogues, colour and music play an important part in conveying an emotion," he says.