Kairana, a small town in western Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district. In June 2016, Kairana’s Member of Parliament, Hukum Singh, who is from the Bharatiya Janata Party, claimed that there was an exodus of Hindus from Muslim-majority Kairana because of harassment by Muslims. To substantiate his allegation, he released a list of 346 Hindu families who had supposedly migrated from the town. It didn’t take long, but the list was soon discredited. Many in the list were still living in Kairana, some had moved out over a decade ago for economic reasons, and while some did claim that deteriorating law and order was a serious concern, no one attributed their migration from Kairana to a Hindu-Muslim conflict.
Kairana, Surkhiyon ke Baad…’ (Kairana, After the Headlines…) attempts to look at the town and its politics, and the issues that affect it, beyond the binaries of Hindu versus Muslim. The town, like many others in UP (and perhaps India) is today confronted with the grim reality of its real issues being glossed over under the shrill rhetoric of religious polarisation imposed on residents by influential politicians. The film seeks to scratch the surface to come up with some of those critical issues.
Nakul Singh Sawhney directed his first film in 2005, ‘with a little help from my friends’, which won the award for the 2nd best film at the 60 Seconds to Fame film festival in Chennai. He then completed a course in TV direction at the FTII, Pune, during 2005-06. At the FTII, he directed Agaurav and Undecided that won awards for the 2nd Best Film and Best Director respectively at the Hyderabad International Film Festival.
His first independent documentary film was Once upon a time in Chheharta on the history of the working class movement of Chheharta, Amritsar. He went on to work with Mr. Saeed Mirza on the feature film, ‘Ek Tho Chance’ where he directed the ‘making’ of the film and also worked as the post-production supervisor of the film. In 2012, he directed Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyaan (Immoral Daughters), a critically acclaimed film on “honour” crimes in Haryana. It has been screened in several parts of the country as also in festivals like IDSFFK, Vibgyor and Film Southasia.
In 2015 he completed Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai… (Muzaffarnagar Eventually…) on the religious massacre in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in 2013. The film has been screened at several venues, including at prestigious film festivals like Cinema of Resistance and Film Southasia (Nepal), Mumbai International Film Festival, IDSFFK and Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. His continued work in Western Uttar Pradesh led to a series of short films and videos in the region under the banner of ChalChitra Abhiyaan. Some of those films include, Kairana, Surkhiyon ke Baad…’ (Kairana, After the Headlines), Muavza (Redressal) and more recently a series of short videos on the caste violence in Saharanpur.