In early December 1984, the town of Bhopal in Central India witnessed the world’s worst industrial disaster when a gas leak at a chemical plant left thousands of people dead.
Some estimates put the total number killed as high as 16,000. Perhaps even more significantly, more than half a million people – many of whom live in crushing poverty – continue to suffer the ill-effects of chemical poisoning, including birth defects, cardiac problems and a myriad other health problems.
A harrowing new movie, starring the incomparable Martin Sheen, tells the story of that fateful night and will be screened as part of this year’s London Asian Film Festival.
In ‘Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain’, London-based director Ravi Kumar tells the tale of how the disaster impacted on the lives of the people of Bhopal and the continued suffering it causes.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Dilip (Rajpal Yadav), a rickshaw driver who lands himself a job at the factory. The job is arduous but presents Dilip with an opportunity to overcome the crippling poverty in which his family lives.
As a result, he has little choice but to ignore the lax safety measures in place at the factory. However, Dilip is enlisted by his journalist friend Motwani who is on a mission to expose Union Carbide, the American industrial giant, who shows scant regard for the safety or well-being of an impoverished people.
Along the way Dilip and Motwani aim to hold to account the man ultimately responsible for the disaster – the head of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson (Sheen).
‘Bhopal – A Prayer for Rain’ is a troubling and deeply moving account of a great, unresolved calamity – one which continues to effect some of the world’s poorest and most helpless.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Ravi Kumar, conducted by the UKAsian’s Editor in Chief Viji Alles.