Indian Governments have blatantly ignored parallel cinema, more so documentaries and even more those that have exposed them and their mortal policies. Anand Patwardhan, a documentary maker driven by the urge to show the not so pretty picture of Indian society, in the era when even the youngest of film makers love to make films for the masses, has recently won the case of the ban imposed on one of his documentaries Father, Son and the holy war. The SC has ordered the
DurDasha DoorDarshan to telecast the film in the next two months. The film perspicaciously looks at the relationship between religion and sexist tendencies woven into the religion of the majority. In the words of Gail Minault, University of Texas Austin, the film presents
Rampant machismo is never a pretty sight, and this two-part video contains a lot of excruciating imagery and some brutal truths. Part One, “Trial by Fire,” opens with flames in the dark, licking at the shops of Muslims in Bombay in the post-Babari Masjid riots of late 1992.
Part Two, “Hero Pharmacy,” continues the parallel between defense of culture as narrowly interpreted and the fear of impotence. From the pitch of the peddler of potency pills to scenes of little boys mobbing the popular cultural icon, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, in his visit to Bombay, the high value placed upon phallic masculinity is conveyed in no uncertain terms.
One of his other works, the documentary Raam Ke Naam (In the name of God), shot mostly by a hand camera while riding a bicycle, covers the start of the Ayodhya RamJanmabhoomi controversy and exposes the hideous vote bank politics followed by the political party so obsessed with the idea of Hindutva. Esteemed Mr L K Advani and Shatrughan Sinha can be heard giving a speech on the top of his voice in rage saying “Mandir wahin banayenge” (we will build the temple at that exact place). Anybody who claims to have clairvoyance in this matter should watch this film. One of the most experienced and knowledgable pujaris of one of the hundreds of temples present in Ayodhya clearly says that no one can say whether Ramji was born in that house or any other. It was just a political game to motivate a large group of people by giving them a cause to fight for something..and the rest is history, everyone knws what happened next. What people do not know is that this pujari was assasinated a few days after he spoke so boldly on the camera. Of course the documentary is banned so not many people know about this or about the reality of the controversy.
I was lucky to have met Mr Patwardhan during one of his visits to our campus earlier this year. An utter perfectionist and outright critical Anand, though unhappy with the our film screening equipment, satisfied every breathing soul with his answers to questions he must have faced over a hundred million times, after the screening of his documentary In the name of God. Having won two national awards with his film father, son and holy war, most of the film makers would have been quite satisfied not making a lot of fuss over with the government, but this man is on a course to show the truth and its always a great feeling to know that the higher courts of justice of our country still believe in the constitution.