Cashing in on 9/11

With Aamir Khan all set to start shooting on 9/11 for his television talk show on socio-political issues, including terror attacks, we take a look at films that have capitalised on terror strikes

Grief sells. It always has. Be it an attempt to highlight the plight of innocent victims who fall prey to reprehensible terror strikes, or just recreating the drama of a dastardly event etched in people's memories.

A still from I Am Singh
Films, TV shows and even books on terrorism and other social menaces have managed to stir up a lot of debates and discussions, albeit at the cost of forcing people to reminisce instances they would like to forget.

And this year seems no different.

A decade since the deadly 9/11 terror strikes in New York, but 2011 continues to see many instances of people either paying tribute or trying to capitalise on what could be described as one of the most horrifying events the world has ever witnessed.

For instance, we see yet another film that talks about atrocities on the Sikh community post 9/11.

Director Puneet Issar's (who directed Salman Khan's Garv) I Am Singh that releases in October will highlight how a few Americans mistook Sikhs to be part of Islamic terrorist groups and targeted them post the attacks. 

Says Puneet, "With I Am Singh, I want to reiterate the fact that everyone wearing a turban isn't Osama Bin Laden.

The film takes looks at the discrimination Sikhs around the world have faced post 9/11 I want to banish stereotypes through my film. I think it's going to be an eye opener in many ways."

For someone like Puneet, the film holds even more relevance since he has been a victim of hate crimes.

Therapeutic or traumatic?
Not everyone is of the opinion that cinema helps deal with grief.

Says actor Ashish Chowdhary, who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Mumbai terror attacks in 2009, "I think films like these are made purely for commercial value. It obviously does not help the victim, but on the other hand it gives filmmakers a great platform to sell their work."

Interestingly, the ongoing Toronto Film Festival will screen several documentaries made on the attacks in America (including the popular Fahrenheit 9/11) and also discuss if films made on man-made calamities hold real relevance.
"9/11 happened during our festival ten years ago, and it was horrific and overwhelming for a lot of people, especially Americans who were stranded here," says TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey.

Bollywood films on terror
Months after 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, a film called Total Ten was released with Ajmal Kasab as protagonist.

Nishikant Kamat's Mumbai Meri Jaan was based on the Mumbai train blasts.

Naseeruddin Shah's Yun Hota toh Kya Hota was based on the 9/11 attacks.

Black Friday was almost a documented account of 1993 serial bomb-blasts in Mumbai

Meanwhile in Hollywood...
Coming up later this year is domestic drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. The film is about a young boy who loses his father in the twin-tower attacks.

Paying tribute
Back home, Mumbai-based film club The Enlighten Film society will pay tribute to victims of various terror attacks by screening movies based on terror strikes, and also films made during times of various wars. Some of them include World Trade Centre, Osama, United 93 and The Hurt Locker.

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