|BY UTPAL BORUPUJARI, Asian Age, 10/4/97New Delhi, April 9: For Anand Patwardhan, it has become a routine to fight through, and for, his films. The recent telecast of Patwardhan’s Ram ke Naam, a hard-hitting documentary on the build-up of religious frenzy leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid is only a small battle won for him.” I think I will have to take the same legal recourse to get my Father, Son and Holy war telecast over Doordarshan,” says the self-confessed “non-neutral” documentary filmmaker about his 1995 National Award winning documentary. “It (Doordarshan) has not learnt any lesson – at least for the last three films of mine, I had to go to the court, and though I won all the cases, the films reached the viewers only four to five years after they were made,” says Patwardhan.
The telecast of Ram ke Naam in the early part of March, expectedly raised a political maelstrom as the BJP took the matter to the floor of Parliament, strongly protesting against what they called “mere fabrications which hurt the religious sentiments of millions.” The 1993 National Award winning film, which Justice A P Shah of Bombay high court described as a condemnation of “those who are intolerant and those who have spread hatred in the name of God”, is just another feather in the self-taught filmmaker’s much-decorated cap. Patwardhan looks at his latest victory with a glimmer of hope, “at least we have some kind of democracy, the government and the establishment might not like a film, but they indirectly recognise it when an independent jury appointed by it gives the work an award. Of course, they then get scared to show it over the national network fearing their activities will get exposed before the people, and hope that the filmmaker will remain content by showing his work in festivals and to an elite audience who anyway are not affected by happenings on the ground.”
He therefore fights in all fora available, including legal, to take his films to people who matter, the people who are actually affected by political and so-called developmental events. Patwardhan, who has been an activist ever since he was a student in the US where he participated in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, makes his motive behind making films clear.
” Right from the beginning, I have been making film’s that are related to some social cause or the other I am associated with,” says the filmmaker who made his first film, Waves Of A Revolution on Jayaprakash Narayan’s social movement. And it was with this film that Patwardhan’s tryst with controversy also began when the film had to go underground with the clamping of Emergency in 1975. That tryst continues. His last film, A Narmada Dairy, a stark documentation of the anti-Narmada dam movement led by Ms Medha Patkar under the banner of Narmada Bachao Andolan, was dropped unceremoniously from the 1996 Mumbai International Documentary Festival at the last moment. But even then he is satisfied. He defines