INDIA / 2018 / English, Marathi, Hindi / Color, B&W / DCP / 218 min
Director, Editing: Anand Patwardhan
Photography: Anand Patwardhan, Simantini Dhuru
Animation: Hanoch Samuel, Shrujana Shridhar, Utkarsh
Source: Anand Patwardhan
Modern day India, with its widespread Hindu nationalism and deepening religious conflict. Those taking a stand against this state of affairs using reason as their weapon are documented in this eight-part epic, supplemented by footage from television and the internet. Fortified by the power of poetry and music—even as the tactics of terrorism and assassination are employed to crush them—they continue in their struggle to address the tragedies engendered by the deeply-rooted caste system, including discrimination against women and the Dalit caste in particular. An emphatic and unflinching warning about the perils of exclusionary populism.
[Director’s Statement] Over the years I tried in small ways to speak to my own people through documentary cinema to overcome issues of literacy. Today I’m not sure where “my own people” are. My country and the world are both unrecognizable.
Everywhere the rush to capture depleting natural resources has catapulted right wing storm-troopers into power. With the collapse of egalitarian values, democracy is under siege. That we, the temporarily comfortable, rarely notice is because an embedded corporate media dispenses both information and entertainment.
Vivek/Reason takes us to a macrocosm—India, the world’s largest democracy, where murder and mind control are dismantling hard-won secular, humanist values. Between 2013 to 2017 men on motorcycles shot dead four prominent Indian rationalists. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, a fighter against blind faith, killed during his morning walk, rationalists Govind Pansare, Professor M.M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh also murdered. All were non-violent opponents of upper-caste, right wing Hindutva supremacists.
Half a century earlier Mahatma Gandhi was killed by the same majoritarian mindset—one that openly admired Adolph Hitler. Their ideology went underground but never stopped proselytizing. Today it is in power lending impunity to hate crimes and lynchings against minorities and the poor. Religion and muscular “nationalism” wreak havoc even as a corporate global media acquiesces or applauds.
When I look back, my own body of work over forty years shows warning signs that my natural optimism prevented from articulating more fully.
Vivek/Reason examines the rise of a myopic authoritarianism that threatens the planet. Its eight chapters also bear witness to heroic acts of resistance in an epic battle that the world cannot afford to ignore.
Anand Patwardhan has been making political documentaries for over four decades pursuing diverse issues that are at the crux of socio-political life in India. Many of his films were at one time or another banned by the censors and by state television channels and became the subject of litigation. Anand who successfully challenged these censorship rulings in court, has also been active in movements for communal harmony as well as movements against unjust, unsustainable development, casteism, militarism, and nuclear nationalism. His films include Prisoners of Conscience (1978), Bombay, Our City (1985), In Memory of Friends (1990), In the Name of God (1992, Citizens’ Prize at YIDFF ’93), Father, Son and Holy War (1995, Special Prize at YIDFF ’95), A Narmada Diary (1996), War and Peace (2002, YIDFF 2003), Jai Bhim Comrade (2012). He served as juror for the International Competition at YIDFF 2003.