Note-This day ( 4 July ) marks 15 years of the disappearance of Sanjoy Ghose, noted rural development activist, from Majuli in Assam. and hence I am revisiting this post on the inspiration behind my first feature film-as the River flows.
Sanjoy Ghose. He was born in 1959 at Nagpur and spent his childhood in Mumbai, Maharashtra. After his graduation in 1980, he had definite admission in all the three then existing Indian Institute of Managements (IIM) – Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Calcutta. Joining the IIMs would have ensured very well paying corporate careers for him. Instead he opted to join the little known Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) in its very first batch.
After completing his MPhil from Oxford (1984), he started an NGO and began working in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan. Subsequently, he handed over the organization to his colleague and decided to move to the Majuli island of Assam with another NGO, AVARD on 1995. His parents weren’t very happy at this decision and when they tried to dissuade him from going to the terrorist ridden Assam, Sanjay enquired – ‘then whose son will you send’?
On July 4th, 1997, Sanjoy Ghose was abducted from Majuli. The United Liberation Front of Assam claimed responsibility for this act. Sanjoy never returned- many a debate and mystery still shrouds his disappearance.
In the late 90s, I had the opportunity to visit this river island quite a few times to shoot couple of documentaries. That was soon after the tragic disappearance of Sanjoy Ghose from Majuli. And like any other curious visitor, many a time I would talk to different people in Majuli about him… Unofficially. And without any scheme of thought – just plain curiosity. And what people had to say about Mr. Sanjoy Ghose – a person I never met- left a strong impression on my subconscious mind.
Almost half a decade later, when I sat down to write my first feature film, I realised that the research for the same has already been done- unknowingly…
Let me clarify one thing – ‘as the River flows’ have nothing to do with the disappearance of Sanjoy Ghose. The film is NOT based on his life. I hardly know anything about him to even think of attempting a film on his life.
I met his wife Sumita Ghose in Delhi before starting the film to clarify the same thing. And I wished, I could do the same to those who threw a grenade at us on that fateful night of April 2009 …
My take on this is simple – if a person like Sanjoy Ghose existed, then somebody like Sridhar Ranjan – the protagonist of my film – could also have existed in Majuli. True, the film is inspired by the unfortunate disappearance of Sanjoy Ghose – but inspiration ends there. The entire story is totally fictitious – having no connection to any person dead or alive.
However, I do hope to come across people who are INSPIRED by the life of individuals like Sanjoy Ghose…