Tuesday, June 2, 2009

'Road to Sangam' espouses Gandhi's tenets at Cannes/Suu Kyi to Receive Gandhi Award

'Road to Sangam' espouses Gandhi's tenets at Cannes


New Kerala Fri, 22 May 2009

By Saibal Chatterjee

Cannes, May 23 : 'Road to Sangam', a reality-inspired fictional account that draws elements from the last days of Mahatma Gandhi's life, is one of the more interesting films on view at the India Pavillion in Cannes. And filmmaker Amit Rai says it has caught the eye of many at the film market here.

"Gandhi-ji's message of peace and harmony is as relevant today as it was when he first articulated it," said Rai.

Rai screened the film for prospective international buyers in the Cannes Film Market.

"The response has been encouraging indeed. Many have been moved by it," the director said.

The cast of "Road to Sangam" is headed by veterans Paresh Rawal and Om Puri. The film also has Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Tushar Gandhi, playing himself.

"Road to Sangam", set in present-day Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, hinges on the character of Hashmatullah, a Muslim mechanic who rebuilt an old car to ferry an urn containing Gandhi-ji's ashes to commemorate his death anniversary.

Rai is a theatre professional who was associate director of the internationally-acclaimed Marathi film "Tingya". "Road to Sangam" is his first film as an independent director.

"I was lucky to have actors of the calibre of Paresh Rawal and Om Puri. They made my job very easy," he said. "I was clear that I did not want the film to be emotionally high-pitched. The impact has to stem from the message that the film conveys."

He added: "The car which ferried Gandhiji's ashes from Allahabad city to Sangam in 1948 is now kept in a museum in Allahabad. A few years ago, it was run within the museum campus after its engine was rebuilt by a Muslim man called Hashmatullah. This incident, coupled with a news item about an urn containing Gandhi-ji's ashes being found in a bank vault in Orissa a couple of years ago, set me thinking."

In Rai's film, when the car is used to take the urn through Allahabad in a procession, it runs into fierce opposition from the Muslim-dominated part of the city where Hashmatullah lives.

"This film is my tribute to the values and principles that Gandhi-ji espoused during his lifetime," Rai said.

The Rs.35-million (nearly $745,000) film is scheduled for release in India in July or August. The English and French subtitling of the film has already been done for international distribution.


Suu Kyi to Receive Gandhi Award


The Irrawaddy News Magazine - Chiang Mai, Thailand


In the latest in a long list of international honors, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been named the recipient of this year’s Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Peace and Reconciliation, which will be awarded at a ceremony to be held in Durban, South Africa on July 20.

The prize, also known as the MAGI Award, is given to those who inspire young people to make a commitment to non-violence, forgiveness and reconciliation. It was inaugurated in 2003 to mark the centenary of Indian Opinion, a newspaper published in South Africa by Mahatma Gandhi.

The award is given by South Africa’s Gandhi Development Trust, which was established in August 2002 with the aim of promoting a deeper understanding of the principles of democracy, nonviolence and human values.

Suu Kyi, who is currently facing charges of violating the conditions of her house arrest just weeks before her detention was due to end, has received more that 80 international awards, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Award.

In a statement released today, South Africa’s foreign minister expressed grave concern over Suu Kyi’s trial, which stems from an incident involving an intruder who allegedly stayed overnight at her home.

“The South African government calls on the authorities in Myanmar to release Ms Suu Kyi immediately,” read the statement.

During a two-year stint as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council, the South African government under former President Thabo Mbeki was criticized for voting against resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Burma.

New Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has not signaled any major change of policy on Burma, but has urged a “negotiated political solution between the government and the opposition” to resolve the country’s longstanding political impasse.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, former President Kim Dae-jung met with a group of exiled Burmese parliamentary leaders and gave them a donation of US $10,000 to support Suu Kyi’s cause.

Korea also struggled under a military dictatorship for a long period of time before achieving democracy. I am sure that history will make note of your dedication to righteousness and freedom,” Kim told members of the South Korean chapter of the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area).


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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