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Boxing Babylon to be screened at Norway Film Festival

Alfredo De Braganza with boxer V. Devarajan.

Alfredo De Braganza with boxer V. Devarajan.

A documentary on boxer V. Devarajan who was the first Indian to win a World Cup medal abroad,Boxing Babylon , made by Alfredo De Braganza of Spain, has been selected for screening in the Norway Film Festival.

“I got the confirmation that the film will be screened as one of the four documentaries, in April in Oslo,” said the 37-year-old De Braganza, quite thrilled to be the first Spanish film-maker to be part of the European Tamil Film festival.

De Braganza, who has been living in India for nearly 12 years, and is based in Jaipur at the moment, had stumbled upon a newspaper advertisement about boxing classes at the Nehru Stadium during his stay in Chennai. He was charmed by the simplicity of boxer Devarajan, a Railway employee, who had competed in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and had gone on to win the bronze medal in the World Cup in 1994.

“He was beaten by the future world No.1 Joel Casamayor in Barcelona, but shared the podium with the Cuban two years later. That showed Deva’s determination,” said De Braganza, who runs a textile export business and has travelled across the length and breadth of India.

The Spanish film-maker, who had made another documentary on the Naga sadhus and a Tamil feature film, Maayan , that was screened in the Inernational Film Festival in Florida, talked to Devarajan’s family, friends and trainees in putting together a film, which paid rich tributes to the “unsung hero”.

“I named it Boxing Babylon , because in a metaphoric way it means a fight against the evil, the odds and the obstacles,” said De Braganza, who incidentally is married to an Indian, Sonia from Nasik, who serves as a school teacher.

He has two children who were born in Delhi and speak fluent Hindi.

“It may sound strange but it is true. There are people who confuse Tamil with Taliban,” said De Braganza, who is fascinated by the diversity of India, and its rich culture.

Looking at the current scenario of rich rewards for the Indian boxers and the tremendous mileage in the media, the Spaniard recalled how Devarajan did not have a video camera to shoot his bouts and analyse his opponents in the 1990s.

“Deva managed his training, food and everything on his own. If he had enjoyed the support in those days, he would have become a world No.1,” said De Braganza about the Chennai boxer who danced with his smart footwork in the ring, around the world, in the bantam and featherweight categories.