Historical dramas are heavy and often put you to sleep. The spirit of investigation and curiosity takes a back seat while propaganda takes charge behind the wheels, in short, a complete turn-off. In a departure from this boredom, Vivek Agnihotri opens The Tashkent Files, revolving around the mysterious death of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri. The Hindi film sets out to explore the life of the hero, whose outspoken views shook up world leaders. Even though you may feel like not watching it, we suggest you do sit through the entire film just to understand how well do you know your country. During Shastri’s reign, India defeats Pakistan in a war. The PM then travels to Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent, signs a peace treaty, and dies soon after in his hotel room. No post-mortem was conducted, despite his family’s demand. Indira Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister and Shastri gets lost in history books.
The truth, however, is that Shastri never got his dues paid. Here was a man, who in his first two years as India’s PM led the country to win a war against Pakistan, set the White Revolution and the Green Revolution in motion, brought back Indians from troubled Burma and signed a treaty on the citizenship of Indian workers in Ceylon. The selfless patriot is merely reduced to the man who coined the slogan, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.”
The Tashkent Files corrects that and gently reminds you that India didn’t gain just one national leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 2 October, but Lal Bahadur Shastri too.