Cast: Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh, Rohit Vemula, Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya Kumar and other student leaders from Hyderabad University and JNU.
Director: Anand Patwardhan
Rating: * * * *
An expansive, 4 hour long epic documentary exposing the origins of right wing fascism after the advent of the BJP and Modi, this film takes a hard look at ideologies of hate that chip away at the secular fabric of a nation that was formed heralding secular, democratic principles, guided by founding fathers Gandhi, Ambedkar, Nehru, Shastri and many other.
Patwardhan’s voice over forms the guiding link between the various chapters of this admonitory tale — beginning with ‘Slaying of the Demons’ including seven other segments titled ‘Reclaiming Shivaji’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Sanatan Religion’, ‘In the Name of Cow’, ‘Fighting to Learn, Learning to Fight’, ‘Terror and Stories of Terror’ and ‘Fathering the Hindu Nation’ before ending with an Epilogue. It’s a marathon effort comprising of interviews, sepia tinged and current newspaper clippings and photographs, TV grabs, footage from student protests and farmers marches from all across India, interviews with the victimised and other well-researched and lucidly presented sources.
The volume of evidence presented here is overwhelming and must be seen by all to understand the gravity of the turmoil the Indian population is experiencing because of the venomous forward march of right-wing brigands who trample on reason and logic with their fake nationalistic sentiment, aggressive life-threatening posturing, food and religion indoctrinated terrorism and negative coercive illogic.
The murders of rationalists Kalburgi, Pansare, Dabholkar, the silencing of a brave anti-fascist voice like Gauri Lankesh, the false narratives created to discredit Dalit PhD students, the rampant demonising of anti-oppression voices (specially student scholars and Institutions), the rampantly false mud-slinging against the founding fathers and conversely, the veneration of cowards and murderers, forms the backbone of this narrative that holds out hope for ‘reason’ to eventually triumph over the preposterous, absurd illogic of a violent, fascist indoctrination that has taken root in the nation. As student leader Kanhaiya Kumar puts it: “We do not want freedom from India, we want freedom in India, freedom from feudalism, freedom from communalism, freedom from oppression…”
Despite the four hour length, this film is supremely lucid, coherent, cogent and accessible. Supported as it is by indelible facts, strong arguments and clear-cut logic, you are likely to get so caught up in the enlightenment that you won’t want to move your eyes away from the screen even for a second. Such is the raw power, ease and brilliance of this expose that is poised to tug at the conscience of every ‘true’ nationalistic Indian.