Vladimir Leon on a quest for a forgotten man in the annals of history. Guessing the film-maker’s Russian connection, the Indian historian Hari Vasudevan showed Leon the iconic photograph shot during the second Communist International (Comintern) Congress in 1920. Amidst the tall Bolshevik leaders of the time such as Grigory Zinoveiv, Vladimir Lenin and Maxim Gorky, there was an Indian face in the picture. It was that of Manabendra Nath Roy, or M.N. Roy, one of the founders of the Communist Party of India in 1920. “Here was a man about whom the world hardly knew anything,” says Leon, who found in Roy’s life the perfect plot for a film. “Roy was a part of incredible moments in history. Imagine a person from a rural family in colonial India being witness to three of the most revolutionary periods of the 20th century.”
Roy, who in the early 20th century was part of an underground revolutionary organisation called Anushilan Samiti in the then Bengal, also founded the Communist Party of Mexico with 10 people, became the leader of the militant peasant movement there, represented both India and Mexico in the second Comintern Congress as an important delegate and, later, participated in the Indian nationalist movement. Despite such struggles, Roy remained on the margins of history.
Leon started filming Roy’s life in 2002 and, in the four years that he took to complete the film, he travelled the entire northern hemisphere, from Mexico to Russia to India and Germany. Through the course of the film-making, Leon discovered facets of Roy’s life that were nothing less than paradoxical. From being a staunch nationalist, inspired by the socio-religious reformer Vivekananda, the nationalist writer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and the revolutionary anti-colonial leader Bagha Jatin, all from Bengal, Roy became a devoted internationalist switching between being a Marxist, believing in a worldwide revolution, and a radical humanist in the heyday of his life. He was expelled from the Comintern in 1928, but he remained a Marxist. Like the European communists, he supported the anti-Stalinist politics of the Communist Party of Germany (Opposition). When he returned to India in the 1930s, he drew the wrath of Indian communists because he deviated from communism to become a radical humanist. He formed the Radical Democratic Party in 1940.
To every place that Leon went to learn about his protagonist, Roy was a hated figure. In Mexico, the communists considered Roy a traitor because he did not speak about Mexican problems at the second Comintern Congress. In Russia, Roy was known for having contested with Lenin. While Lenin believed, in principle and in politics, that nationalist movements across the world should be supported if they were anti-colonial in nature, Roy believed that the struggles should not be supported unless they were militant. […]
(Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta)
2.07GB | 2h 11mn | 762×572 | mkv
Language:French, English, Spanish, Russian
Subtitles:French (hardcoded), English