Khushboo Ranka (director)
Friendly People (studio)
120 minutes (length)
09 October 2016 (released)
09 October 2016
In India corruption, fraud and political elite manipulation of the political landscape have become a major part of the election campaigns. As the youth vote rises and younger groups in India grow larger and want to change this situation they have begun to desire someone to rise to the challenge of combating these ills. Arvind Kejriwal created the Aam Aadmi Party (Commons Man Party) to do just this. It is an organisation to challenge the short comings and blatant fraud by the political parties and the elites.
An Insignificant man is a profoundly good piece of cinema and supreme documentary film making on one hand and just as valid if it could have been made in the 1970s at a time when India was changing and the angry young men (and women) of cinema stood up to the societal issues. The film could be considered as good as that election behemoth of documentary film making, Primary. It is as engaged and connected to its events. It has hues of delight, sadness and intellect that were on display from both film maker and candidate in the former film but handles them with an urgency unlike that film. It also has something else that is just as complex and compelling that misses the casual audience and even itself. That is the issue of legacy.
Legacy of a country created out of a world torn apart and a dynasty giving roles that tried to construct equality, only to fail. An audience outside of India will not understand much of the former and so might miss a lot of its tidal flows. I understand that some will and that is useful but to have any understanding of a single event, you need to understand context. An Insignificant Man does not allow us to be informed about these developments in detail enough to make a casual viewer compelled to understand the significance of an insignificant man. Many are taught in Indian schools history that is both subverted and in some cases is pure propaganda (likened it to how we are taught about Churchill and his awfulness). Post independence India and Nehru's government were unable to execute the socialist ideals because of the reclamation and re establishment of power (in that case the Zaminder privilege and patronage). I feel it is critical to exploring for a wider audience internationally how and where India finds itself now and this film sprays us with too much vagueness.
Khushboo and Vinay direct and edit the piece with great skill and do so to add texture, depth and careful analytics to the plot of political realities and fantasy. This is amazing work in that it reveals a communal expectation of hope over an absence of will but I fear that without the context in the first place and the stripping down of idealism in the second, it is just reinforcing the view that India is going in circles and has not a future place that it will aspire to get to? It is however a great film to watch for the it is about expectation for better. For me it should be underlined as better at what price?