‘Ali Was Killed But’: The Story of Algerians Against the French Colonialism

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Author: Shali Shaheed Altaf

“Battle of Algiers” is a wonderful movie, translated into Balochi by (late) Sajid Hussain Baloch under the name “Ali Janag Bot Bale” while directed by Haneef Sharif. The story is political, based on the Algerian movement against France. The writer of the story is Franco Solinas, while the movie is directed by Gillo Pontecorvo.

Originally released in 1966, the Balochi-dubbed version was released in 2010. The film concentrates mainly on revolutionary fighters of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the original name in local language is Frontie de Liberation Nationale. Battle of Algeria reconstructs the events that occured in the capital city of Algeria between November 1954 and December 1957 during the Algerian war of independence, while the war actually ended into the liberation of Algeria in 1962.

Moreover, Ali Ammar, known by his nickname Ali La Pointe, was the commander-in-lead who led the movement between 1954 to 1957 – the year he was martyred. The Balochi dubbed movie is named after Ali which translates as “Ali was killed but”.

The highly dramatic film is about the organization of the freedom fighters and the illegal methods, such as torture, used by the French regime to stop the revolution in Algeria. The symptoms of the brutalities done in the Algerian movement are matched in the ongoing brutalities inflicted on the Baloch. The camp and check-post culture resembles Balochistan too. Similar to torturing the people mentally in the Algeria, Baloch have been facing humiliation in the face of such check-posts. Questions as “Going where and coming from where” and “whys” have contributed to the given disgrace by the foreigners.

From protests to any demand of their fundamental rights, the Algerians faced strictness from the French colonial forces. The crime was actually committed by the French forces which was legalized by their illegal occupation of the Algerian land. That was the point where the Algerian national liberation movement gained momentum. 

Furthermore, at the height of the street fighting in Algiers, the French staged a press conference to capture the FLN leaders. A Parisian journalist once asked an Algerian revolutionary, “Do you not consider it cowardly to send your women carrying bombs in their hand bags, to  blow up civilians?”

The rebel replies in a flat tone of voice, “Do you not think it cowardly to bomb our people with napalm? Give us your airplanes and we will give you our bags.”

Additionally, they became successful in their mission to arrest the leaders of FLN and they were tortured, and beaten brutally where several leaders died. But their death was not the end of the movement against them, in fact, the movement strengthened with their death and others led it to victory. From here, we understand that death cannot crush a movement, neither brutalities and tortures. What actually finishes a movement is the lack of interests of the concerned masses.

To conclude, I would like to say that the film reveals the level of bitter reality. It is too true, too cruel, and too heartbreaking but very strong in its true essence. The strength of the film, I think, comes because it is both passionate and neutral concerned with both sides. 

The voices in Balochi are of Haneef Shareef, Homer Kiyya, Sarfaraz Mohammad and Ijaz Baloch. The movie is beautifully dubbed by Haneef and his team which deserves to be watched once. Though Ali is killed, but the story was on and the Algerians win. Same is applicable in every moment.

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