Making of the film

In the year 2002 December I was offered a fellowship to do post production work of the film Jahaji Bhai at the University of Warwick by Prof.David Dabydeen who was heading the Department of Caribbean studies.

During my stay at the university I met a number students and faculty members who stayed back and worked during winter months.  One day I was having a conversation with a Guyanese scholar and Christian pastor Kampta Karran on Christianity and concepts of usage of blood in church rituals. In the middle of the conversation a young scholar who was doing her PhD joined us. She was Emily Blasse is from Romania . The word Romania evoked in me the Carpathian mountains mentioned in the  novel on Count Dracula. Soon our discussion moved to concepts of eternal longing for vitality of white man, portrayed in many European fiction.

For me, count Dracula was a representative of a Christian while male’s eternal urge for achieving eternity in physical space. My arguments were based on Francis Ford Cuppola’s filmy version of Dracula where Dracula was portrayed as a crusading Christian who fought against Islamic Turks in the medieval period. I pointed out to them that the Gypsies briefly mentioned in the novel and portrayed in the film is a classic example of how western intelligentsia still follow subtle Christian arguments to portray others as pagans and barbaric.

Emile enthusiastically supported my arguments and said though Romania have nearly 5 million Gypsy population , they are being kept outside from all developments by social and political systems. She said, for the white people, Gypsies are criminals and bad elements in the society and were allowed to use public space because of various reasons. The Gypsies according to rest of the society are dangerous people who practice witchcraft, spoke barbaric language and worship devils. Their children are still uneducated and most of them are beggars in the European cities engaged in all sort of criminal activities.

She told us that Gypsies are originally Indians who have left India nearly a thousand years ago. I became curious find more about the Indian connection of the story. I was expanding my horizons of knowledge on Indian Diaspora.

After living in Warwick for a month I left for London to screen the film te first cut of Jahaji Bhai. One of the strangest reply for my invitations for film screening came from a person named Paul Polanski who wrote to me that he is very keen to watch the film and said he also wanted to discuss something very important with me.

Over several cups of coffee and cigarettes, I listened from Paul the fascinating world of Gypsies who according to him are people of Indian origin . Gypsies, whose present population in Europe is nearly 12 million, are the most disadvantaged group in this part of the world. He showed me a number of photographs of Gypsies from Balkan area who looked very much like people from Punjab or Rajasthan or Kashmir . My curiosity grew more.

He gave me few of his research articles about  a kind of caste system among Gypsies. The language of Roma people is also very similar to many north Indian languages. He said he is presently stationed at Prishtina, capital of disputed territory of Kosovo, which was under UN occupation and invited me to visit him there.

I was taken aback by the near total lack of information about this important part of Indian history from the Indian mainstream knowledge . I immediately accepted his invitation to visit Kosovo where hundreds of thousands of Gypsies are living in UN refugee camps and slums.

Paul said the sufferings of Bosnian Muslims received attention because Islam has a block of countries to support their cause. What about gypsies? They have been suffering ever since they left India. Even after nearly one 900 years of existence in Europe Gypsies are still treated as outsiders and many countries in Europe do not accept them as normal people. In Czechoslovakia Gypsy children are being sent to mentally retarded schools for education . There is a systematic and planned programmes in place for several centuries to marginalize and destroy Gypsies.

During the World War II, millions of Gypsies were exterminated by Nazis along with Jews for their racial impurity . There are countless books, films, poem, essays and research pares on the suffering of Jews. But what about the Gypsy holocaust ?.

Four years later when I organise the first cultural meet of the Diaspora for theIndira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGNCA) I invited Paul to present his views. He came with another Roma activist Ms.Miradia Gidzic from Kosovo.

Before they left India, Paul and Dia invited me to visit them and to see the Roma plan a  documentary film.


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