Watch: Ram Madhvani's short film tells lesser known story of the man who partitioned India
This Bloody Line, directed by Ram Madhvani who also directed Sonam Kapoor-starrer Neerja, is a short film whose impact is not defined by its length.
It gives a glimpse into the state of mind of the man who was responsible for drawing the line of Partition between India and Pakistan, Sir Cyril Radcliffe.
It opens with the best remembered line from Jawaharlal Nehru's iconic speech India's Tryst with Destiny. The scene shifts to the year 1966 when Sir Cyril Radcliffe, an old barrister with cataracts in both eyes, receives a phone call about a poem that WH Auden wrote about him. Delighted, he asks his wife about it, who informs him that the poem is not a kind one.
While reading the poem, his wife skips a line, which Radcliffe insists that she reads. "The weather was frightfully hot, And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot," was this particular line. Radcliffe is largely unfazed.
Once his wife finishes reading the poem, she is visibly distressed. "This is what I'll be remembered for... the Radcliffe line," he laments. He says that the cause of all his trouble is 'Dickie', that is Lord Mountbatten, who was thought of as so crooked that if he swallowed a screw, he'd shit a corkscrew. Radcliffe talks about how he had told Mountbatten that he did not have the time but that he had to give in to the demands of leaders like Nehru, Jinnah and Patel, who insisted that Partition be carried out before 15 August, 1947.
The husband-wife duo discuss the ridiculousness of the concept of Partition because one country would be sandwiched between two parts of another. Radcliffe also mentions that he asked the Lord Chancellor why they had picked him, because he was merely a barrister. He keeps saying that it is not his fault and that he was coerced into getting the job done. His wife lauds him for giving back the £3000 when their family needed it the most. Radcliffe says that no one is going to remember that detail.
He refers to the border he drew as a bloody one because he knew that implementing it would create violence, which is why he left India. The short film has some powerful lines, such as "I'm almost blind now, but I was blind then," and "This was one country, one heart cut into two." It also has some powerful visuals, such as the shots of a fountain pen drawing on a map interspersed with old footage of people from Partition times.
Watch This Bloody Line here: