Documentary | 31 min | Hindi with English subtitles | India | 2007
In the winter of 2005 Indians switched on their TV sets to watch yet another “breaking news” story, but one which shocked them. In the town of Meerut, police officers, mostly women, swooped down on lovers in a park and began to beat them up. Along with them, they took photographers and news cameramen with the promise of an exclusive sting operation. As images of the operation played again and again on every news channel, Meerut saw some of the couples run away out of fear and shame and serial protests for and against the event, which also made the news for some days.
What is the story of this news story? The film looks outside the frames that weave the frenetic tapestry of Breaking News on India’s news channels to uncover a town’s complex dynamics – the fear of love, the constant scrutiny and control of women’s mobility and sexuality, a history of communal violence, caste brutalisation and feudal equations – all of which coalesce in the idea of “love jihad” which would later go on to become a major issue for the Indian right-wing. This film was the first time the phenomenon was noted.
Assuming the tone of pulp fiction and tabloid features it examines the legacy of this kind of storytelling, from the relishing accounts of true crime magazines like Manohar Kahaniyan to the double morality of pulp detective fiction to the tabloid news on Indian TV, to unfold a thrilling but disturbing tale of its own.
Best Short Documentary at the International Video Festival of Kerala, 2008.