Kedarnath - The real tragedy that inspired the reel story

by - 2/13/2019

When Kedarnath released last September, it had created quite a buzz for multiple reasons. The movie launched Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara Ali Khan in Bollywood. Songs like Namo Namo had got people humming. However, the biggest reason the movie caught eyeballs was its backdrop - the 2013 Kedarnath floods. Now, with the movie getting a digital release on ZEE5, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the real incident that inspired the movie and its depiction.

What did we see in the movie?

The movie revolved around Mukku and Mansoor. Mukku is a young Hindu girl whose father is a Brahmin priest, running a hostel for pilgrims in the temple town of Kedarnath. Whereas, Mansoor is a Muslim porter who carries pilgrims to the temple for a living. The two fall in love but being from different backgrounds, their relationship faces stiff opposition, especially from Panditji, Mukku’s father. However, chaos ensues when Kedarnath is hit by flash floods, one of the worst the country has seen. Thanks to spectacular CGI and effective direction by Abhishek Kapoor, the flood sequences, especially the climax, keeps you on the edge of the seat.

The real story

While the movie primarily was a love story at heart with the floods coming in the second half of the movie, the real story is a tragedy that affected thousands of lives. The flash floods, in questions, that hit Kedarnath had swept throughout Uttarakhand in 2013. Throughout the state, the floods resulted in the loss of numerous lives with thousands still missing, according to the National Institute of Disaster Management’s India Disaster Report 2013.
What actually happened during the floods?

Between June 15 and June 18, 2013,  Uttarakhand received 375 per cent more than the usual rainfall, according to the data from the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Not only did the rainfall cause the region’s water bodies to reach dangerous levels, but it also caused the Chorabari Glacier to melt. The gush of water from the glacier led to the flooding of the Mandakini river. All these factors led to waves of water sweeping through places like Kedarnath and Rambara. Another factor that proved to be deadly was the loosening of the topsoil (the movie showcases it in its climax too) and the mud, rocks and boulders (nine to thirty-two feet in diameter) that flowed with the water.

The town of Kedarnath, itself, was hit by two waves of floods. The first wave came with the flooding of Saraswati and Dudhganga rivers on June 15 and 16. The second wave came on 17th June caused by the overflowing of the Chorabari Lake. These floods pretty much wiped out the upper parts of the town and led to many pilgrims being stranded.

In order to rescue the stranded people, the Uttarakhand government and central government initiated a joint rescue operation. As part of the operation, Army, Air Force and Central Paramilitary Forces were brought in to airlift people, reliefs camps were set and around 900 trucks with essentials with sent to affected areas. As per the National Institute of Disaster Management report, the Kedarnath rescue operation was one of the largest evacuation and rescue operation executed by a civil government.

The Kedarnath floods is a story that one would expect to feature in a Nat Geo documentary. But it is interesting how director Abhishek Kapoor and writer Kanika Dhillon are able to weave a poignant love story in the backdrop of this devastating flood. With Kedarnath released on ZEE5 on the 14th of February, you can relive this epic of love and zeal for survival. To watch Kedarnath movie online click here.

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