Since gaining independence in 1947, India has been a secular state. But now, as religious fundamentalism grips much of India’s population, the greatest danger to the nation’s extremely strained social fabric may come not from Sikh or Muslim separatists, but from Hindu fundamentalists who are appealing to the 83% Hindu majority to redefine India as a Hindu nation. IN THE NAME OF GOD focuses on the campaign waged by the militant Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to destroy a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya said to have been built by Babar, the first Mughal Emperor of India. The VHP claim the mosque was built at the birthsite of the Hindu god Ram after Babar razed an existing Ram temple. They are determined to build a new temple to Ram on the same site. This controversial issue which successive governments have refused to resolve has led to religious riots which have cost thousands their lives, culminating in the mosque’s destruction by the Hindus in December of 1992.Read More »
In a politically polarized world, universal ideals are rare. In India, as elsewhere, the vacuum is filled by religious zeal. Minorities are made scapegoats of every calamity as nations subdivide into religious and ethnic zones, each seemingly eager to annihilate the other or extinguish itself on the altar of martyrdom. FATHER, SON AND HOLY WAR explores in two parts the possibility that the psychology of violence against “the other” may lie in male insecurity, itself an inevitable product of the very construction of “manhood.”Read More »
A marvellous documentary, one of the best Indian films of the last decade and the director’s greatest work. Banned by the national censor.
Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s controversial War and Peace (2001) could well have been titled War and Peace: Or How I Learned to Forget Gandhi and Worship the Bomb, for the major theme that runs through the film is the disjunction that exists between the past and the present and a nation’s collective (and selective) cultural amnesia with respect to their own past. Shot in four countries – India, Pakistan, Japan and the USA – and over a period of four years following the 5 nuclear tests done by India in 1998, Patwardhan’s film was slammed by Pakistan for being anti-Pakistani and by India for being anti-Indian, while the film’s barrel was pointed elsewhere.Read More »