By Janak Samtani
In December 1992, Hindu extremists, members & followers of VHP, BJP & Bajrang Dal, karsevaks, were allowed to take over Babri Masjid. We all are aware to some extent about the events that took place post that. Ram Ke Naam, a documentary feature, shows the events & atmosphere of 1991, in which the masses were incited to march towards the mosque. A rath yatra, led by L.K.Advani under the flag of the BJP party, lies at the crux of the documentary’s narration. From the start it is made evident that this was a political rally and never a rally to get back Ram his birthplace and appease the desire of the Hindus of India. It was all about misleading the public & accumulating the Hindu vote & the Hindu funding. And, they succeeded. The Hindus who had nothing to do with Ayodhya & the Babri Masjid were now wanting to prove their identity. With already so many existing temples in Ayodhya and no historical record at the shelter in which Ram was born; their “divine knowledge” helped them determine the exact spot of Ram’s birth, which happened to be at the spot of an existing mosque. The documentary interviews people from different Hindu classes, Muslims; and gives you insight into what the people had to say about the building of the temple. The people living in smaller towns & rural areas, which were shared by Hindus & Muslims alike, through their views, give a sense of calm that existed, and of the fear & riots they were expecting to take place after. But, the places which had Hindu majorities show you their completely different expectations & demands. And for the karsevaks, you will be able to clearly see how misled they were, to put on saffron headbands and think they were going to achieve some sort of glory. Pujari Laldas, the High Court appointed priest for the Ramjanambhoomi Temple, candidly talks about the intentions of VHP, BJP and the other Hindu priests. In the madness that surrounds him at ground zero; he maintains his soft tone and very peacefully shares his anguish & hurt for the people, who will have to face the consequences from the plans & actions of the powerful & rich Hindus. Laldas questions what he sees not only around him but also the events taking place throughout the country, and then compares it to the teachings of Hinduism. It is rare to find people who take a position & stand by it. The documentary is made by Anand Patwardhan, who considering the diversity & complexity of the Indian society, has delivered a work which is complete, with no loose or open ends. The work includes people from different religions, castes, law departments & economic classes. Anand‘s tone in his interviews is very noticeable, which remains calm & composed even while confronting karsevaks who talk about demolition & murder. This work is two decades old, but it will remain timeless and always reflect on us.