Suhasini and ChandranTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
"I visited these women five years after the notorious riots. It was (social activist) Shabnam Hashmi who took me around. They were still in camps, after all those serial rapes and atrocities. They lost their men and their land. But their spirit was intact," said Chandran after the premiere of the film here.
The story revolves around a teenaged girl Zahira whose Keralite father was running a teashop in Ahmedabad during the riots. The rioters ransack his shop and kill him, gang rape his wife and teenaged daughter, dump them in a well and set fire to their bodies after dousing in petrol.
"The day after the Godhra, we were enjoying a fashion show in Kozhikode. Gujarat riots still figure in the state's politics but the real issue is often swept under the carpet. What were we doing to these girls in the name of religion?" Chandran told reporters here.
The hapless girl faces attempted rape in Kerala while the elders in the community compel her to take refuge in polygamy against her will. On the wedding night when the elderly groom tries to overpower her she is reminded of the gang rape, resists him and runs away.
Five years late, she is seen in Ahmedabad again with a group of riot victims fighting for their rights.
"In Gujarat or in Kerala, girls fall victim to the religious fanatics everywhere. Growing religious fundamentalism poses a threat to women in Kerala as well. The flora and fauna have their space here but not the woman".
Chandran had to face stiff opposition in Gujarat while shooting there and had to pack off at one stage. He then shifted his location to Mysore to complete the film, which is written and produced by Congress party leader Aryadan Shoukath.
The cast includes Priyanka, Suhasini, Biju Menon, Thilakan, Gopakumar, Sreeraman, Indrans, Praveena, Zeenath, Santa Devi, Nilambur Aysha and N K Raveendran.
The hero of his 2004 film, Kadhavaseshan, end his life ashamed of living after he knows that the little girl he befriended in Gujarat was gang-raped and killed in the riots. "This is a sequel to that film, if you want to see that way," Chandran said.
This is the second film that Shoukath and Chandran joins hand for, the first being the ward-winning Padom Onnu: Oru Vilapam. The film also fetched Meera Jasmine the National award for the best actor.
M J Radhakrishnan cranks the camera while M Jayachandran has set score to Girish Punthencherry's lyrics. The film is planning August release in India and abroad.