By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 7 September 2020: Amidst the gloom of a sensational Bollywood story about the tragic demise of a young actor splashing around and people being hounded, is the story of the activist documentary maker, 70-year-old Anand Patwardhan struggling and cruising for years making what he wants to. His cinema about toxic issues speaks for itself. He does not compromise. He fights and moves ahead.
Locked out in the pandemic hit Mumbai, Anand interacts with confidence and clarity on Zoom with people in Melbourne in a special virtual event organized by the S.A.F.I. (South Asians for Inclusiveness) and The Humanist Project and conducted by Vikrant Kishore. The ambiance is a mix of cinema and social issues with Anand not mincing words as he answers a wide variety of queries.
” Social media is useful. We have no other media but there you are alone watching on a laptop. I like interacting with people,” he says answering a question by South Asia Times (SAT) about the use or misuse of social media and technology for filmmakers.
“Production has become democratic and even with a small camera one can produce that can be reached to more audiences”, he says.
On a question about content in Bollywood, he says, ” Very few in the mainstream cinema produce about the majoritarian onslaught on the Muslim community. The majoritarian state has created a majoritarian entertainment.”
About the fight against fascism, he says, “Anybody who can think should think about it. Fascism is growing but this is different from Hitler’s fascism. Everyone should unite against it.
The secular side did not create a secular culture. We are no match for the hydra-headed monster.”
Answering questions about caste he says, ” Caste continues even in people who have converted to other faiths. It’s deeper than religion.
The fight against castism and majoritarianism is the same.
About the Indian diaspora, he feels, once you are out of your country, you can expand and a much broader identity can emerge. You people on the right path expanding without prejudice.”
Anand, who has produced many famous hard-hitting documentaries like In The Name of God, Jai Bhim Comrade, and the recent Reason, continues to inspire budding socially conscious filmmakers, critics, and cinema makers, has only one regret – the outreach for his message documentaries was lacking and he fought many court cases to get them released.
But social media outlets with so many streaming services and the Zoom interaction itself gives us a ray of hope. More can be accessed about him at – http://patwardhan.com/
A full video of the Zoom interaction with Anand Patwardhan will soon be available on social media.