Kaya Taran (Chrysalis)

Screening followed by Q & A with Sashi Kumar

DATE & TIMING: May 10, 2005: 6-9pm

LOCATION: #1205 Cambridge Community Center, University of Maryland, College Park


Directions: Visitor parking is available in the garage. METRO: Green Line to College Park. There is a free shuttle bus that comes from Metro to Campus. There is also a circuit bus within campus if you don't want to walk! Please give yourselves an extra half hour for walking/parking.


Sponsors: College Park Scholars (Media Self & Society Program) [Peoples' journalism blog]


SEATING IS LIMITED: Please RSVP Shiva at or to ensure a place.



The film straddles two traumatic events in recent Indian history: the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the anti Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002. But it does not frontally engage with either. The film essentially deals with the dilemma of identity in a multicultural society that, every so often, turns volatile. Many aspects of the highly charged contemporary discourse find resonances in the film: the religious divide, the tyranny of the majority, the issue of religious conversions, the alienation of tribals from their hereditary land .

Through all this the abiding theme is faith in humanness and the humaneness of faith. There is, too, an undercurrent of self-reflexivity about contemporary media. The journalistic 'story' transfigures the story on which the film is based into a non-linear experience that is poised between a docu-feature and a celluloid fable. Categories of filmic genres are blurred as the frames lend themselves to multiple readings.

For more information about the film, see



What happened to thousands of Sikhs, particularly in the capital, in the wake of the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1984 sits uneasy on our national conscience. It is a deep and still-festering wound on the collective psyche of this proud race. It has always struck me as peculiar that even so many years after that carnage we have not looked it squarely in the eye, politically, socially or culturally. There is an unnatural sense of ellipsis in the way we tackle it even when it figures in our social discourse. But the film is not so much a look back in anger as in search of answers. It does not attempt to frontally depict the violence or the killings- any such approach would, I think, be self-defeating. Nor is it a passionate or bleeding-heart engagement with the situation. It seeks to contexualise the violence of '84 with that in 2002 in Gujarat and see these as symptomatic of a deeper and more insidious challenge - a challenge from within - to our multi-culturalism.



Film maker & Chairman, Media Development Foundation & Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India.

Sashi Kumar has been an important, energetic, and engaged player in the world of media for over two decades in Chennai, India.

In the late seventies he was among the earliest Newscasters in English on Doordarshan, India's national TV network and, over the next decade, became a familiar face in TV households in India as news and current affairs anchor, film critic and producer and director of topical features on television. Among the weekly programmes he authored and presented were Money Matters, the first independent programme on the economy on Indian television; Tana Bana , a cultural feature; and Jan Manch, an interactive forum between Ministers in the government and a cross section of society. He has been the principal anchor of international conventions like the Commonwealth Heads of State meet in Bangalore, The Nonaligned summit in Delhi and the International Film Festivals of India for several years.

The numerous short films and docu-features he scripted and directed, which were telecast on national television, bore his distinctive stamp of originality, investigative rigour and critical candour and there were, almost always, brushes and tension with the authorities in airing them. During the mid eighties he focused his critical and creative energy on a series of documentaries on international issues that were path-breaking because they provided an original and alternative perspective (as against the routine western view) to the troubled spots of the world. He traveled extensively to make these features, visiting the Soviet Union several times during the dismantling phase of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika'; East Germany (GDR) just before the collapse of the Berlin Wall; Romania in the immediate wake of the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu; several countries in eastern Europe to get a feel at first hand of the collapse of communism in that part of the world; several states in Europe and the USA for a mega feature on Disarmament and Development. He also produced a number of special features on the issues affecting South Asia covering Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Maldives. Most of these docu-features combined descriptive or illustrative visual footage with incisive and analytical interviews with the key players in each situation, and were telecast as a many-part series. He was considered something of television's Sri Lanka expert during the height of the fractious war on the island and the phase of the IPKF intervention.

As founder President of Asianet : In the late 80s, he launched Asianet, India's first satellite TV channel in the regional language, in late 1992. Telecasting in Malayalm, the channel was targeted at Kerala and the large diaspora of Malayalees in the rest of India and the Gulf states. Simultaneously he also launched Asianet Satcom, a cable company in Kerala that took up state-wide cabling using the electricity poles. Both these were pioneering steps in the evolution of independent Satellite TV and Cable in India. The Asianet channel set new trends and standards in intelligent and wholesome programming that resisted the innate tendency of the medium to dumb down. Asianet Satcom was the first state-wide cable system in India.

As founder Chairman of Media Development Foundation & Asian College of Journalism : In 1999 Sashi Kumar founded the Media Development Foundation as a nonprofit public Trust dedicated to excellence in journalism education and best practices in the profession. He set up the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai. The college has already acquired the stature of the premier institution of journalism education in this part of the world attracting the best students seeking to study journalism from across India and other countries in south Asia, and forging links with some of the best in the field like the BBC, the Columbia School of Journalism in New York, and Cardiff and Westminster in the UK.


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