New Delhi, Nov 9 (UNI) Supriyo Sen, maker of the acclaimed documentary film 'Hope Dies Last in War', which is about the Indian soldiers taken POW during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, says he was led to it by the words of the wife of one of them.
The film has been included in the India Panorama of the prestigious International Film Festival of India (IFFI) beginning in Goa on November 23 Sen said on December 5, 2004 he was accompanying Mrs Damayanti Tambay, wife of Flt Lt V V Tambay to Ambala cantonment from where her husband took off for the last time on the same day 33 years ago.
''I asked her how she could wait alone for such a long time, even Winnie Mandela did not have to wait so long for Nelson, and she replied, ''It is the unconditional, unwavering love for the person that has driven me to set on such an endless journey. That was the moment I realised that I have to tell this love story to the world,'' Sen told UNI in a telephonic interview from Kolkata.
Fiftyfour Indian soldiers taken as Prisoners of War during the war are yet to return home. While waiting for them, some of the parents died, wives of some of them remarried and some children lost hope and committed suicide.
But there were some who did not give up and they went through the real ordeal.
''For them life has become a tight rope walking between hope and despair. But they have fought the mental battle of attrition for almost four decades and are still not willing to resign,'' says Sen.
''Perhaps, because as long as there is love, there is hope. And hope dies last in war!'' Besdies Damyanti, among others in the film are Vipul, son of flight lieutenant Manohar Purohit and Dolly, daughter of first lieutenant R M Advani.
They endlessly wait at the border, sign petitions, refusing to give up.
The film depicts the struggle of these families, spanning three generations, to get their loved ones back. It records a killing stalemate, sufferings of love and shining moments of humanity, courage and hope, Sen said.
The filmmaker shot the film in three-and-a-half years and was fortunate to get funding from some big international film funding bodies.
Sen feels that documentary films in India do not get the attention they deserve, and majority of the public has no means of watching good documentaries.
'Of course, you have Doordarshan and the Films Division of the Government, but that is not enough and there has been lack of any comprehensive policy and planning to promote interest in documentaries,'' he said.
In the Western countries, the private and satellite TV has played a great role in popularising documentary films and they are commercially released there, but in India private broadcaster have no place for such films, though the NDTV has made a little beginning recently, he said.
''However, Sen said, there are some positive developments seen of late. People have shown some interest in good documentaries, which is an opportunity both Government and private organisations should utilise and promote the market for such films,'' he added.
Sen, who shifted to film making from journalism, has earlier produced and directed documentaries like "Wait Until Death"(1995), "Dream of Hanif"(1997), "The Nest"(2000) and "Way Back Home"(2003).
His awards include National Award (2000,2003), B F J A Critic's Award (2000,2003), BBC Award in Commonwealth Film Festival (2003), Golden Conch in Mumbai International Film Festival (2004).
He has also received Sundance Documentary Fund, Jan Vrijman Fund and Asian Network of Documentary Fund for the production of his films.
His films have been screened in Amsterdam, Nyon, Yamagata, Pusan, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Mumbai and other film festivals.