Gujarat Police Academy

Culture, Law, Politics

One of the most moving experiences we had when shooting the film was a performance arranged for the cadets at the Gujarat Police Academy. It will probably end up being a key scene in the movie, but who knows? Fortunately, you won’t have to wait. Renowned journalist (and blogger) Dilip D’ Souza was also in the audience that day. You can read his moving description in an article he wrote about Chharanagar for Tehelka magazine:

And there is Budhan Theatre — created by a group of young people who have thrown themselves into theatre.

The name Budhan belongs to a young man from another denotified tribe, the Sabars of West Bengal, who was killed in police custody in 1998. In some of their plays, they act out the desolate, wrenching dramas of torture and death among DNTs, the burden of being considered criminal so easily for so long; the burden they carry despite their forays into education and middle-class respectability. It’s not Oscar-level acting. But it is anguished and heartfelt, and thus surprisingly powerful.

The group travels one evening to the plush new Gujarat Police Academy near Gandhinagar to stage a play for the police. They reach early, in time to have a rehearsal. One boy sits in a corner intently practicing the sole line of English he has to say: Two Chharas arrested in multiple robberies and thefts”, as if reading from a newspaper. He says it too fast, he says robberi-as”, over and over. Until the director and moving spirit behind Budhan Theatre, Dakxin Bajrange, tells him it is robberies”, and that he should say his line loud and firm but s-l-o-w! The boy sits in the corner intently practicing some more, but now loud and firm and slow.

Then they perform, for an airconditioned room full of police officers and constables. The ironies are piercing, sitting there and watching this. Here are these youngsters, referring openly to illicit liquor and weekly bribes and inexplicable arrests, dramatising true incidents of incomprehensible savage brutality by policemen. Yet here are these policemen, watching intently before applauding long and hard at the end.

An unaccountably moving experience.

Read the whole article.

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