Published: 04th October 2017
Remembering Gauri's politics of love, one month on: Why Pradeep K P wants to show Gauri Lankesh's life in a full-length movie soon
Pradeep K P has just made a documentary on his close friend, Gauri Lankesh, with the aim of showing the world who she truly was. It was screened at St Joseph's College in Bengaluru
About a year ago, filmmaker and cinematographer, Pradeep K L was shooting a documentary on the rising saffronisation in North Karnataka when he was physically attacked. The first person he called after the gruesome incident was one of his closest friends - Gauri Lankesh. "She immediately asked if she should call the Home Minister. Gauri was always petrified of any harm coming to the ones she loved. She said she didn't want to lose me. And now...I've lost her," he said softly. On September 30, Pradeep screened a documentary on the slain Gauri Lankesh, called Namma Gauri, produced by Pedestrian Pictures, in association with the Communications Department at St Josephs College, Bangalore and the Alternative Law Forum.
A native of Kerala, Pradeep first moved to Bangalore in 2000, around the same time that Gauri took over her father's paper. They met while Pradeep was shooting a documentary on Bababudan Giri, a region in the Western Ghats which has had communal tension for years now. Gauri was doing a cover story on the same. A chance meeting turned into a 16-year friendship and it's the instances from those past years that Pradeep has put together for the documentary. "Over the years, photography has changed from film to digital, so it took a while to get our 16 years of friendship together," Pradeep said.
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Gauri Lankesh's life on the big screen
But this film is not a personal narrative — that is something which will be reflected in a full-fledged film he will release down the line, Pradeep says. This documentary is a response to all the immediate reactions Gauri's death evoked from the "right-wing" tweeters and also several media outlets. "People called her a Naxal sympathiser. Some even celebrated her death. They called her a Marxist. The least that people can do, especially reporters are to check their facts. Gauri was not Marxist, neither was she a Naxal sympathiser," he retorted.
"I haven't been on social media since her death because all the hatred angers me. That's why on the second or third day I decided that I would produce a documentary as an answer to all these haters and name-callers. And it would also be an insight into her lives for all those who marched on the streets for her," he affirmed before adding, "The one time that she was deeply involved with Naxals was in 2006, when a group of 4-5 Naxals wanted to surrender to the police but one of them was shot dead. She herself, had only gone into the forest once or twice," Pradeep said.
"Her politics was beyond ideologies. What she knew best was how to love. She knew how to love people and she put her heart and soul into doing everything for their happiness. That's why her politics was beautiful," Pradeep said.
Gauri through his eyes
Through his documentary, Pradeep wants the audience to get an insight into what sort of a person Gauri really was," The students at the Film and Television Institute of India went on a strike for 72 days once to protest some issue, she went and participated in it. It didn't matter what the issue was, whether it was political or not, if she felt that someone was suffering and she could help. She would be there," Pradeep said. This is why Pradeep says that Gauri's politics was based on love, not on ideologies. "Her politics was beyond ideologies. What she knew best was how to love. She knew how to love people and she put her heart and soul into doing everything for their happiness. That's why her politics was beautiful," he said.
A number of people in the documentary including Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mevani, Teesta Setalvad, her colleagues, her peers, friends and her family all mention how she was the sort of person who was just always full of love. Her world revolved around trying to make life better for those around her. "Even if it was 2.30 in the morning, she would always come and pick me up from the airport, no matter how far it was," Mevani said. When Kanhaiya was released from prison, Kanhaiya recalls how Gauri sent him some clothes and a letter, "She would say if I ever felt lost or tired, I could always go home. She wanted me to feel that her home was my home as well," he said in the video. "She was the sort of person who gave you confidence even when you thought that there was no hope at all. If you have even a hint of self-doubt she would assure you that it would all be okay and you should just continue striving to do what you do."
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Of threats and fish curry
Many media reports suggested that Gauri had been receiving threats for a long time but Pradeep says if Gauri had been receiving any personal threats she would have confided in her friends. "Ever since the Uma Bharti issue, she's always been at the receiving end of threats from various sources. But she would have confided in me or any other friends if she was really scared. She always received threats online as well but you know what she would tell them. She would ask tell them they are misguided and ask them to have a cup of coffee with her. That's the sort of person she was," he said firmly.
Pradeep fondly remembers how Gauri loved food, "I'm Malayali and I cook, so I'm a big meat person. She used to love whatever I cooked, especially my fish curry and prawns. The last time we spoke was a few days before she died. She had said she missed my fish curry and I'd promised to cook her fish curry the next time she came home. Now I will always owe her a fish curry," he laments.
You can watch the video here-