Delhi based movie critic-turned-film maker from Assam, Utpal Borpujari’s documentary ‘Memories of a forgotten War’ will have a special screening on January 31 at the 15th Mumbai International Film Festival.
The documentary produced by Subimal Bhattacharjee under the banner of Jookto relives the horrific phase of World War II fought in the north-eastern part of british India in 1944.
The documentary goes back to those days of the war when when Japanese troops advanced to the north-eastern part of India, then under British rule from Burma, but were pushed back by Allied forces in the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal.
An estimated 168,000 people died during the violence, with more Japanese troops succumbing to diseases like malaria and dysentery than the war.
The defeat was a turning point for the Axis powers in World War II.
The 109-minute documentary dissipates many sagas that surround the siege of Imphal and captures the Indian angle in the battle as Indian soldiers were on both sides. While Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) sided with the Japanese, the Allied forces were a curious blend of different nationalities.
The documentary was shot over a period of nearly two-and-a-half years since 2014 in Delhi, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Japan and the United Kingdom. It contains startling first hand accounts from the men who fought the battle and also those locals who experienced the conflict in a movie on the most decisive war that changed the face of human civilization, but with a humanist approach.
Borpujari in his documentary also showed to the world, how regions in Manipur and Nagaland are still an open-air museum of war remnants.
Memories and objects from the time have survived and been preserved, in their own fashion. Families of the region still display live shells unearthed during excavations, with many causalities taking place during such amateurish and casual adventures. While helmets, water bottles and cutlery have become display items, a shell has become a temple bell.
The documentary concludes with footage of the wreckage of an World War II American plane being extracted from a hillside in Arunachal Pradesh in 2015.