Story: The film sheds light on Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence and the atrocities committed against the Bengalis by the Pakistani military to suppress the liberation movement.
Review: Other than the depiction of endless suffering, helplessness, genocide and language hatred, at heart, Children of War is a story of separation, survival, longing and utmost resilience, with the backdrop of war.
A journalist asks himself if the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, as he frantically looks for his missing wife. The latter gets trapped in a rape camp. After losing his parents and entire village to war, a young boy strives hard for his sister's safety. The two hope for a better future. An old man ensures his fellow villagers a safe passage to India. A rebel leader indulges in guerrilla warfare against the Pakistanis to help his countrymen.
While the facts are for all to see, not many have attempted to recount Bangladesh's painful journey to freedom. A war, which lasted for nine months, led to innumerable brutal killings, rape, loss of hope and innocence. Debutant director Mrityunjay Devvrat recreates the tragedy that left many scarred for life.
While the events (some fictionalised) are poignant and tear-evoking, the narrative struggles to hold the film together. The filmmaker's constant desire to shuttle between simultaneously running parallel tracks ends up breaking the flow. While the pace is unhurried throughout, you wonder why the background to the war was so hastily wrapped up in the beginning.
Barring brief video grabs of Indira Gandhi's interview with the BBC explaining India's take on the '71 war, the political scenario stays untouched. A fleeting mention of Mukti Bahini and Yahya Khan is not enough. You crave to know more about the war, its causes, history, strained relations between the countries, etc., but that doesn't happen. Exclusion of the back-story kills the relevance somewhere.
In spite of the odds, COH stands out for its earnest performances and thoughtful music. The film is tense and atmospheric. Wish it was more in-depth as well, given the gravity of the subject.