I watched this movie twice – The Tashkent Files. I watched it for the first time for pure curiosity in me about the death of our 2nd Prime Minister who gave us the slogan “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan” – along with the White Revolution, Green Revolution. And there is so much more to his galore yet unknown, not-talked about. It does feel that we are forgetful because it has been a thing (or a name) in the past. And we humans are forgetful by nature. But what if someone comes and tells you that this forgetfulness about Shastri ji was well orchestrated. You would be like “WTF!?” That’s exactly I said!
Forgetfulness can be involuntary as well. It’s ok if we would have forgotten some of his deeds but how is that we also forgot that his birthday is on 2nd October. I paused and thought that it is absolutely fine to not remember his birthday as I do not remember many of other PM’s birthdays as well. But then it hit me 2nd October is also Bapu’s birthday, which makes it more obvious to remember Shastri ji’s birthday as well. But I was never taught either in my GK period or mentioned in the charts of Indian Politicians that Shastri shares his birthday with Gandhi ji. And that very thought made me watch the movie twice.
While it is a beautifully crafted movie shot in a single room where people with expertise in their areas assemble to discuss and solve Shastri’s death mystery. They were – a social worker, a journalist, an author, a judge, an Intelligence agent, a scientist, a bureaucrat and a politician. They all bring their own perspective while discussing the issue at point. They went on to take sides – some of them vouching for that it was not a natural death but a murder and some of them rubbing it off as rumour and conspiracy. And one thought was beyond just this which highlighted the Right to Truth!
And that hit me hard. Who ensures that what we consume as food or as knowledge is unadulterated and with no ulterior motive. Who can be sure that we are consuming, watching, observing things as is and they are not camouflaged. As they say “Truth is stranger than fiction” and “history is a story that the winning side writes”. They are uncomfortable thoughts. We bring our biases into each and everything we produce.
The movie depicts it in an easy and simplified manner – and I can project just a piece of it. The scientist in the room was interested in solving the case and ensuring that it turns out to be murder because that night the man who gave Shastri milk was Muslim. And this scientist belongs to Hindutva group. The judge in the room wanted to be a part of this debate because he wanted to attain goodwill in the eyes of the government and so that he could earn himself a civilian award. The author washed it off as a conspiracy because she had written a book on Shastri’s life depicting his death to be a natural one. The politician was participative because if his side wins, he can wear that epithet and if he loses, he can claim his glory of having the guts to participate and be honest.
And then there is this one person who is fighting for her right to truth. And when you watch the movie – it hits you that how many facts, realities have never reached you and will never reach you because at every point someone is objecting to present the truth and the real picture to the public – the commoners like you and me. And that makes it so much worse. There is a scene where the moderator calls each one of them a terrorist – social terrorist, Intellectual terrorist, religious terrorist, etc. And you cannot not say No. And all you can do is drop your heads in shame and annoyance.
We are no one to judge the maturity of our society and how will our society will react to certain truths, allegations on their favorite ministers, accusations, etc. We as a society need to be educated, wise and tolerant enough of various theories, facts, points of view and make a choice for ourselves. And more importantly, no truth should be hidden from the public just because it will hurt the sentiments of a certain group or ethnicity of people OR just because hiding the truth will benefit a certain section of society or a handful of people.
Right to Truth is our fundamental right and no one should (or can) deny it!