Recently featured at the 70th Venice International Film Festival, the film Kush by Shubhashish Bhutiani– set during the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in New Delhi, India — has been awarded the festival’s “Best Innovative Budget” award:
“Kush” was made on a shoestring budget thanks to private contributions including by the Film Director and other individuals who sacrificed their fees and charges to make the film possible. The Director, a student of the School of Visual Arts in New York was also able to secure three grants from the school, quite a feat for a student. Creativity, personal initiative and help from individuals allowed to keep costs down using real locations, with support from the local community, adding to the authenticity of the film.
Bhutiani, a graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, created the film based on a true account of a teacher who sought to protect her Sikh student from the pogroms that occurred in the aftermath of the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October, 1984. The film was Bhutiani’s senior thesis project.
For the Sikh community, that such a story be told is significant, as this injustice — resulting in the organized butchery of thousands of innocent Sikhs in India in a matter of days — has been left unaccounted for by India’s judiciary. Particularly glaring was the involvement of Indian officials in the pogrom and the impunity many of these officials have enjoyed in the decades since. The history of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms has been kept largely untold and is certainly not commemorated, making projects such as Kush all the more meaningful.
Read an interview with Shubhashish Bhutiani about the making of the film here.