: Heaven and hell on earth
is a 2007 Indian drama film
co-written and directed by Rahul
; David N. Donihue
is the other co-writer. The film
featured Naseeruddin Shah
in the lead roles, while Corin Nemec
played supporting roles. Made on a budget of US$ 700,000, the film was shot in
Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
The film is inspired by the true story of a 10 year old Parsi
boy, Azhar Mody, essayed in the film as
Parzaan Pithawala in the film, who disappeared during the communal riots in Gujarat
in 2002. The
film traces the journey of the Pithawala family while trying to
locate their missing son.
was premiered at 36th India International Film
Festival in Goa on 26 November 2005, before being released
nationwide on 26 January 2007.
Allan (Corin Nemec
), an American,
arrives in Ahmedabad searching for answers, to find internal peace
and to understand the world and his troubled life. He choses India
as his school and Gandhi
subject of his thesis. It is here that he meets the Pithawala
family — Cyrus (Naseeruddin Shah
his wife Shernaz (Sarika
), son Parzan (Parzan
Dastur) and daughter Dilshad (Pearl Barsiwala). The Pithawalas
. Through them and the
teachings of an Gandhian
, Allan starts to
find peace of mind.
The Godhra incident
wherein 58 Hindu
religious piligrims are
supposedly burnt alive by a Muslim
mob. As a
reaction to this incident, communal riots
thereafter wherein hundreds of Muslims are killed by Hindus
. Amidst these riots, 10 year-old Parzan
disappears. Cyrus, Shernaz and Dilshad manage to escape the
carnage. In the aftermath of the riots, Cyrus searches for his
missing child while fighting for his own sanity. While assisting
the Pithawalas in their search, Allan battles to uncover the reason
behind the riots in an effort to try and make some sense of the
incident. People start to question government's official
explanation of the incident which downplays any conspiracy. As a
result, a Human Rights
formed. Through the commission, several witnesses and victims
testify against the indifference of the police to protect them from
the rioters. The film ends with a dedication to the victims of
2002 communal riots in
Angeles-based director Rahul
Dholakia faced a personal tragedy.
The riots left his
friend's family shattered and this left an indelible mark on him.
It hurt him all the more because the incidents happened in his home
state. He felt responsible, both morally and socially, and wanted
to speak up as a filmmaker. Most of the US$ 700,000 budget came from two
of his Indian friends in the United States.
Dholakia chose to make the film in English
because he thought that communal
riots was a global issue. Furthermore, he was unsure whether he
could have the film released in India, given the sensitive nature
of the film.
While deciding on the cast, Dholakia said that they were not
looking at people's physical appearances. He added:
We didn't want glamorous people to play realistic
We've shot the film without any makeup, etc. We needed
people who looked believable.
So casting did play a major role, and I'm not even
talking about the principal cast.
Every actor in the film has been auditioned, and that
includes people with one line to say or not even that.
Veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah
the first and obvious choice for the film. But Dholakia was very
apprehensive about whether Shah would agree to do the film, and if
he could pay his remuneration. His latter worry was because the
film started out as a very low-budget film. After Dholakia narrated
the script to him, Shah said, "I agree in principle, provided we
make this sensitively and sensibly." Shah thought that the film's
story needed to be told, and he felt that he had to be part of it.
After agreeing to join the cast, Shah did not actively research for
his character. Being a parent himself, he felt that it was not
difficult for him to emphathize with the family whose son was lost
in the riots. After a 18 years of hiatus, Sarika
chose to return to cinema with this film.
Since the film dealt with a real and sensitive issue, she felt that
went beyond than being just a film. Despite
facing the camera after a long gap, Sarika felt quite comfortable
during the shooting.
Shortly thereafter, Shah, Sarika and Dholakia went through the
script in great detail. Owing to their screen and real-life
experiences, Shah and Sarika suggested changes and revised the
script several times.
the film was about communal riots
in Gujarat, the film was purposefully not released in Gujarat, as the
cinema owners refused to screen it fearing backlash.
2006 National Film Awards (India)
2008 - Screen
- Won - Ramnath Goenka Memorial Award
- ‘Rahul Dholakia’ Wins Ramnath Goenka Memorial
Award IndiaGlitz, January 11, 2008.