Nearly seven years since two students – one from India the other from Pakistan – forged a friendship at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, and began discussing, among things, the Partition of India in 1947, their joint effort Partition Stories is ready to be edited.

A feature length documentary centering on the memories of their families, it will poignant, disturbing, but essentially humanistic stories. The friends Mara Ahmed and Surbhi Dewan, who have invested their own resources, are raising money through crowd-funding to add music to the film and have it edited (

“We should have completed this project long ago,” said Ahmed, “but Surbhi and I were also involved in a number of projects. Now it is a matter of a few thousand dollars and a few months of post production work.”

Dewan was involved in the research and the script for director Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s Bhag Milkha Bhag, which went on to become one of the biggest hits of 2013 and won awards. She also made a documentary on Milkha Singh.

Ahmed said one of her uncles, who is featured in the documentary, died recently. “He did not have an opportunity to see the film,” she said. “And his death is a reminder for us to get it out very soon.”

Dewan said soon after meeting Ahmed, they both realized that they had the same story to tell. “Even though we had been born many years after the Partition of India,” said Dewan, “and on opposite sides of the border, our personal connection to that historic event had clearly left a strong, lasting impression. And this was the story we were eager to share with the world.”

They have been working on Partition Stories for about six years, but the Partition has been part if their lives since they were children, when they heard stories “ about this most painful and arduous journey undertaken by our families.”

“It is now our turn to tell their stories, and the story of a shared culture, language, and history,” Dewan said. “Partition Stories is an attempt to document the event, preserve memories, and pay homage to these brave men and women in our lives.”

The film has been shot in three months on two continents. Dewan said they have “captured some beautiful footage in Lahore and Delhi to give audiences a sense of place and culture.”

“Our technical team is diverse and intercontinental,” Dewan said, “and it includes an animator in Moscow and a musician in New York. The fact underscores our belief in the universality of this film and the themes of coexistence, which it highlights.”

Dewan studied political science at Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, before coming to America.

Her documentary, Tales in a Walled City, told the stories of mixed ethnicity youth living in post- Civil War Yugoslavia and now the independent country of Croatia. She has also made a short documentary about a Maoist student leader in Nepal.

Mara Ahmed, who has an MBA and a master’s in economics, worked in corporate finance. Ten years ago, she quit her job to devote herself to her passion: Art and film. Her first film, The Muslims I know, premiered at the Dryden Theatre in 2008.

Her second, Pakistan One On One, was a broad survey of public opinion in Lahore about issues of interest to Americans. Both films have been broadcast on PBS, ad been shown at global film festivals.

Dewan said her films “connect personal portraits to larger socio-political landscapes,” adding that the predominant theme that runs through her work is how displacement shapes identity.

Her short documentary, Time Will Tell, explores the experiences of international students in America through personal stories, poetry and animation.

Their newest is expected to be about 90 minutes long, and knocking at major film festivals worldwide soon.