Fake encounters have rocked Assam and other parts of the northeast India time to time in the last several decades. This ‘dark’ episode is being captured on celluloid by debutant film director Manjori Borkotoky who has roped in Mumbai-based actor Urmila Mahanta, for whom it was an eye-opener of the ‘dark’ episode of Assam history.
“Yes. My film deals with one of the most-talked after episodes of our state. But among these there were certain things which could never be discussed openly for some unknown reasons nor were reported the way it should have been. I have tried to throw some light on that episode through this film,” Manjori told The News Mill.
Fake encounters have been a major worry for the state of Assam and Manipur where several youths had to lose their life to this menace.
In October, 2018, seven Indian Army personnel, including a major general, were sentenced to life imprisonment in a 24-year-old fake encounter case in Assam by an army court martial. Five members of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) were killed in the fake encounter. The security personnel claimed the victims were members of ULFA.
Manipur too has similar stories. Human rights activists in Manipur said that hundreds of such fake encounters have taken place in the state between 2000 and 2012.
The film named ‘Across the Paddy Fields’ tries to narrate the pain and sufferings of the people who never got justice through the protagonist Palkee Kashyap. Palkee played by Urmila makes a journey back home in search of her father.
“It’s totally a new experience for me. I got to know about the fake encounters. It has been a learning experience for me to know a part of Assam history doing this film. Fake encounters do take place in other states as well which I have read. But in Assam it’s little opposite as people are not raising their voice for justice. There are many silent victims of the episode and you can see a shade of that in Palkee and her mother’s character,” Urmila of Padman-fame told The News Mill taking a break during her shoot in Guwahati.
Urmila, who has also worked with celebrated Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi in ‘Beyond the Clouds’, further said that her film will give a voice to those people who suffered but could never protest nor sought justice.
Apart from her, veteran actors like Bishnu Kharghoria, Jyoti Narayan Nath, Bibhuti Bhushan Hazarika and Navadip Borgohain among others are playing some pivotal roles.