This Republic Day, it wasn’t Akshay Kumar who tried telling us about the value of being Indian. It was Aamir Khan who according to me, is the most adventurous superstar of Indian cinema. He makes movies that make money and yet they also make us think hard and reconsider our priorities as Indians and global citizens.
Rubaru Roshni is the most valuable lesson on human compassion and empathy that you are going to carry home from a movie but then again, this masterpiece on humanism comes directly to our homes. So we have the opportunity to carry the message of absolution in places that are not tangible.
Even if I had to trudge to the nearest movie theatre to see this, I’d only be thankful for the opportunity to witness a film that oozes so much passion, it was to me, a religious experience.
Rabaru Roshni tells three harrowing and healing stories of loss and reconciliation all bound together by one thought: forgiveness. Avantika Maken’s bitter rage and uncontrollable grief spills over on camera as she recounts that fateful day when as a little child she got to know her parents, politician Lalit Malken and his wife, were brutally killed by a Punjabi militant.
Every single detail of that blood-soaked morning comes spilling out in a stream of cataclysmic consciousness. And then there is the other side. The disturbingly soft spoken Sikh assassin Kuki who tells his story. He talks about what it is like to let rage take over your better judgement.
No, we are not confused. Only bewildered at the ironies that govern human life. That Avantika Maken opts to forgive her father’s killer is just the twist in this tale of Kafkaesque conviction where the perpetrator and the victim coalesce into a frightening clasp of moral ambivalence.
As the compassionate nun Sister Rani Maria’s assassin Samundar says in the second story, “She is large-hearted enough to forgive me. But it’s impossible for me to forgive myself as long as I live.”
This saga of a brutal murder and the murdered woman’s sister’s reconciliation with the murderer, replete with a raksha bandhan scene, plays out like a hammy third-rate melodrama. Except that it’s just the opposite. Very often the drama of doom plays out at a pitch where everything begins to seem unreal, somewhat shrill and hysterical.
What does it take to let go of hatred, to tell the man who shattered and wounded your life permanently, those three most difficult words in the English language, ‘I forgive you’?
Very often as I watched Rubaru Roshni I broke down as I saw lives that were shattered, ruptured and permanently wounded mending themselves, because otherwise there is only hatred. And a blur of grief and anger.
The third story of an American woman Kia Scherr travelling to Mumbai, the city where her husband and daughter lost their lives in the 9/11 terror attack, is the only story here where culpability is not pinned down to a name and a face. It’s like watching a woman grieve for a loss that no one is accountable for. She can’t ‘forgive’ because there is no one to accept her forgiveness.
Profoundly moving Rubaru Roshni must be seen by the largest audience possible. In a world largely infested by hatred and misogyny, here is a film that that tells us of a way out of the gauntlet of malevolence and vendetta that we have built on our planet.
Try compassion. It is highly therapeutic. There is really no excuse to miss this.