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A tale of two people, many nations
- A ‘personal’ film on Partition evokes emotional response in Britain

The tale of two people who found a new home after the upheavals following Partition, has been all the way to Britain and back, touching hearts and minds on its journey of many a mile. Film-maker Supriyo Sen made Way Back Home despite all obstacles — a personal story of his parents’ sufferings after having to leave everything behind in Bangladesh but the clothes on their backs, when violence and lawlessness seized the land. The film is about Sripada and Gayatri Sen’s trip back ‘home’ after half a century.

Chosen by the British Council for the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester last month, Supriyo is back from the trip with renewed purpose. “It had a wonderful response, because a lot of people told me that the best thing about Way Back Home is the universal theme… People from different nationalities, religions and backgrounds identified with my parents’ story.”

So, there was an Israeli Jewish girl who said she had been told similar stories by her parents and grandparents, while a film-maker from Cyprus said he was inspired to put his own life on film, living in exile in Greek Cyprus, having been expelled from his home in the Turkey-occupied part of the island.

Next, Supriyo and his film were off to a screening at London School of Economics, followed by a discussion with lawyers and scholars. “It was a full house, which was amazing. But while in Manchester the response was emotional, this time there were comments like this film was an important document of those troubled times, especially since it is not very well recorded in history.”

The winner of the audience choice award at the festival is in talks with a UK-based company for European screening rights. “It would never have been possible without the $ 15,000 I received from the Jan Vrijman Fund in the Netherlands. The sad thing is, I had to look outside the country. No one here was willing to finance it.”

But the saddest thing, he says, is that the Indian film industry in Europe is identified with Bollywood. “That misconception must be changed, because there is a lot more to Indian film-making,” sums up Sen.

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