During September 13th to 17th, 1948, the Indian Government attacked the State of Hyderabad which is known and remembered as the Police Action in Hyderabad. A programme was organised on 17th September 2013 remembering that event at the School of Humanities Auditorium, University of Hyderabad. The programme started with the screening of Deccani Souls, a 2012 film by Kaz Rahman which is based on Hyderabad and Operation Polo. Kaz is a visual artist, filmmaker who teaches at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Apparently, his father migrated to Canada during the Police Action of 1948. Kaz lived in Hyderabad during 2004-08. He made films like Dead Body (2002), Salat (2010) and this is his third directorial movie.

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Deccani Souls is an abstract film about the mystical journey of the protagonists to another time and place – Hyderabad. Kaz Rahman who plays the role of Hamza lives in Canada. He visits the city’s history through a dream. The other fictional character Babu is a census collector, who goes to houses, discusses with people the tragic event and their association with the city and ownership of their property. He is symbolically used to represent the old Hyderabad. He, in the present city, tries to make people get rid of the tragic event’s memories by asking them to sign on the government papers and in return he gives them 250 rupees. His offering money to the people is sort of invitation towards a new beginning and happiness but at the same time people are skeptical in accepting this. The character Siddiq is a poet, who is going through a phase of writer’s block. He finds difficulty with his creativity and searches for the history of Deccan. He is specifically looking for the lost writings of his grandfather, Habeeb-ur-Rahman. Finally he manages to get a copy of the book called ‘Talwar’, which narrates the whole tragic incident.

Thus, Deccani Souls presents Hyderabad in relation to its historical backgrounds where these three characters try to understand the city. It seems all these characters want to know what Deccan is and where its Soul lies. It is like what was this city like? What has happened in the past? etc. However, the characters never utter a word about the tragic incident; it comes sometimes in the background as a narrative and sometimes where Siddiq reads his grandfather’s account of that history. However, through all this the movie does not forget to capture the essence of today’s Hyderabad. It tries to capture the old Hyderabad’s image in contrast to the ‘progressing Hyderabad’.

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The director was present and interacted with the audience. According to him the tone of the film is melancholic. It was a different culture and lifestyle before 1948. He used information from the Sunderlal Report about Operation Polo. One of the actors of the film Mr. M. A. Siddiq was also present on the occasion who is also a poet on his merit and his poem is also used in the movie too.  Siddiq recited some of his poems which echoed the trauma and pain of the tragic incident. After this there was a small talk by Burgula Narsing Rao who lived the time, has seen the Nizam’s rule, the Razakars, the Police Action and so on. He is also a senior Telangana activist. Discussion happened on the issues like the direct and indirect ruled on princely states, merging them into Indian Territory, rise of the communal violence and so on. There was also a discussion on the issues of Razakars and their violence on the native people, the aftermath of Operation Polo and the violence on the Muslim community, different narratives, Telangana state formation etc.

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Altogether, it was a good informative event. Dr. Usha Raman, Head, department of Communication who was also present at the screening said that we must think of preserving these oral history and narratives before it fades away. Abu Saleh, one of the organisers said “Deccan has immense potential of research. I wanted to have views of both the sides and it went well. In future we will conduct more such events on Deccan and Hyderabad”.

By Safia Begum, Ph.D. Research Scholar at UoH