Something significant and magical happened in Sep 1956 to independent India’s polity. Something that would have served as a bench mark for generations of politicians to come and govern India, where unfortunately, India lacked substantially, owing to the selfish motives of rulers from the west.
A tiny man of size, a man who was known for his brilliant work and timid posture, a lower middle class man rose to the ranks of a cabinet minister for Railways, resigned because a train accident happened. Quite strange as per the moral standards of Indian politics, right? Yes, and the same man went on to become India’s Prime Minister in June ’64.
In the brief stint of his PM-ship, India saw what her real son could do for her. Shastri Ji defied all the socialistic and non-alignment conventions forced upon India by previous government. He brought in White Revolution, made India the net producer of milk, gave a living example to Indians by skipping a meal and making Green Revolution happen and brought Pakistan to its knees within 22 days of war in ’65 with a call of clamor ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan’. He did all this in a little time.
Indians were ecstatic. This leader with a timid posture was now the tallest leader whom Indians started to revere.
Destiny had other plans and this short lived happiness came to an end on the unfortunate night of 11th Jan ’66. Shastri Ji passed away under huge clouds of conspiracy theories alleging foul play, at Tashkent in erstwhile USSR.
However we went on with our daily lives. Sounds unwise and perplexing? But this is exactly what we did as a nation after the suspicious death of our 2nd and one of the most successful PM. We simply brushed away the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and ignored the alarm bells ringing in our collective consciousness. Any proud country could have gone to a war on the death of a lesser minister in a foreign country but here it simply got buried in the pages of history.
53 years later though, a director and storyteller, Mr. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri decides to bring out the truth. He decides that this occurrence of highest importance should get its due in the public discourse and an effective effort to bring about a closure to Shastri’s death must be made. As a part of Indic Academy, the official intellectual partner of TTF, I am fortunate enough to be a part of a group, who have seen the early rushes of his movie, ‘The Tashkent Files’ (TTF).
TTF is not an attempt to pinpoint the culprit of an alleged assassination. It was the duty of the government of the day and they failed miserably in that. It’s rather a quality political thriller, attempting to dig, correlate and create a picture of the circumstances in which Shastri Ji died. It showcases the important dialogues and discussions, which Indian public and agencies needed to have. There are thousands of questions unanswered and to the utter bewilderment, there are no signs of any serious attempt and enquiry or proof collected by government agencies on their PM’s mysterious death. Vivek painstakingly crowd sourced and researched for 2 full years on the subject and is now ready to present before us the final picture. The rushes were thrilling, captivating and constantly generated huge interest on the subject. Fact that the movie has one of the best cast line-up of recent times adds up a cherry to the whole thing. Enigmatic Mithun Da, conspiring Nasir, quizzing Pankaj Tripathi, menacing Pallivi Joshi and brilliant protagonist Shweta Basu Prasad alongwith other actors, assure a gripping thriller.
For some strange reasons, the party to which Shastri Ji belonged, has come out to ban this movie from releasing. They found the right petitioner in the form of a relative of Shashtri Ji. Time will tell whether they are successful in banning the movie or not, we can’t simply miss the dollops of irony in this whole act. This is the same party where current faction is created by the one who became successor of Shastri Ji after his death. This is the same party which despite of several years in government, never made any serious attempt to unearth the truth and bring a closure to Shastri ji’s death. Same party which is ruled by a dynasty, briefly got disturbed in hierarchy by Shastri Ji’s rise in the party and Indian politics. Same party which is creating hue and cry over some nonexistent danger to FOE under Modi Government.
I believe, this movie is sort of a reparation, however delayed, to the collective consciousness of this country and especially to that wife who wailed and cried to get justice and truth on her husband’s mysterious death.
The movie has to come out. We owe it to Shastri Ji.
Go out, watch it, and make it a success!
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