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Dressed in simple grey safari suit, peering over his Gandhi-esque glasses, one can tell that filmmaker Jahnu Barua is a man of few words. When you say something that hits home, his face breaks into a crinkly smile. Yet, he takes time to answer. In Pune to receive an award, the nine-time National Award-winning director talks about his films, the 26/11 tragedy and how films can be a vehicle for social change.
Sixty-year-old Barua has made 13 feature films so far — including the 2005 Hindi film Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara — all of which have won critical acclaim. The FTII alumnus' latest offering Baandhon centres around 26/11 and was chosen as the opening film at the Indian panorama section of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2012 in Goa. Written and directed by him, the film revolves around Dandeswar and Hkawni, an elderly couple, who arrive in Mumbai to look for their beloved grandson — the only other living member of the family who has been missing since the 26/11 terror attack.
"It was in IFFI 2008, when I saw the 26/11 news on TV and thought that this was going to be one of the major topics for films in the next few years," says Barua. But he was surprised as well as disappointed to see that no filmmaker was ready to touch the subject. "That's when I decided to make a film on the subject," he adds.
But Barua was very wary about approaching the topics of violence and tragedy revolving around 26/11, since the disaster had left a deep impression in the minds of the people. "That is why I chose to tell the story from the point of view of an elderly couple," says Barua, adding that he has shown no graphic details in the film. The film was shot in Mumbai, which is a city close to Barua's heart, since he has spent more than 25 years there.