A short excerpt from the booklet
Anand Patwardhan’s is one of the most reassuring voices in Indian cultural life. I don’t just mean that he reassures us by facing down with courage and worldly skill the constant hostility he faces from governments, censor boards, corporate interests, and Hindu fundamentalist groups. That is reassuring and impressive enough, but I mean something more unusually reassuring and impressive.
In the corpus of cinematic work he has accumulated over four decades, Patwardhan pursues this steadfast and repeated truth-telling in politics with a core of commitment and consistency to ideas that trace back to Gandhi and to Marx: the moral power of non-violence, the belief in the judgement of poor and working people away from the centres of power and wealth (in other words the belief in democracy), and the wholesale (not piecemeal) rejection of the comprehensive ruin wrought by the stranglehold of capital, controlling states as well as the media both of which do its bidding, generating imperial domination to this day, to say nothing of generating and sustaining inequalities in just about every society in the world, inequalities that are not merely economic but feeding into the inequalities owing to social prejudice of caste and gender and race… These are all utterly familiar ideas by now, but their efficacies have never been given a genuine run, and yet Patwardhan refuses to allow this to make him despondent and let them go for other up-to-the-minute intellectual tendencies, as most other intellectuals and artists have. In film after film, he returns to them, much as Cezanne returned to the apple in painting after painting from every conceivable angle, seeking to get to its core, not just its physical but its logical form, as it were.
That is what I most admire in Patwardhan’s films and it is displayed in gratifying abundance in War and Peace (Jang aur Aman, 2002), a film about the nuclear threat to humanity. Though the canvas is frequently global in reach and aspiration, a central and recurring focus is on that danger as it grew out of the nationalism of the Indian sub-continent in the post-independence period, in particular on Hindu nationalism of recent decades in India and the abiding militarist culture of governance in Pakistan.
The film’s attack on such nationalism is frontal and unswerving, yet it is made more interesting by repeated hints in the film, owing mostly to the dominant figure of Gandhi among Patwardhan’s influences, that nationalism is not one thing.
Above all, the film, both in its message and in its method, is a cinematic paean to ordinary people, to the poor and working people of India, to whose judgement it constantly turns, with a camera touchingly dedicated to a democratic trust in what they have to say. These are people who are made to speak again and again throughout the film in voices of pain, bewilderment and confusion, and in doing so exposing the massive deceit played upon them by the state and the media with the illusory rhetoric of nationalism and religion, always as he puts it reviving the enemy (Pakistan, in the case of India) or reinventing them (communism, Islam, in the case of the United States). Over three painstaking hours of documentary footage is a searching, compassionate commitment to letting the subaltern speak.
Akeel Bilgrami's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the DVD release.
A short excerpt from the booklet
Cine Outsider by Slarek
The Arts Desk
by Tom Birchenough
CineVue by Ben Nicholson
DVD Beaver by Eric Cotenas
Backseat Mafia by Rob Aldam
The Geek Show
by Graham Williamson
Cinema Eclectica podcast
(i) A Cinema of Songs and People: The Films of Anand Patwardhan
(ii) Earth vision: Interview with Anand Patwardhan
(iii) Mark Cousins on Anand Patwardhan
(iv) Anand Patwardhan in converstaion with reggae poet and recording artist Linton Kwesi Johnson
(v) Indian Censor Board's war on 'War and Peace'
(vi) Censorship and Indian Cinema: The Case of Anand Patwardhan’s War and Peace
(vii) Why I am returning my national film award: Anand Patwardhan
(vi) CND UK
Length / War and Peace:
Special feature: 48 minutes
Sound: Mono (restored)
Colour and Black & White
Original aspect ratio:
1.33:1 full frame
Languages: English, Hindi, Japanese, Marathi, Punjabi, Urdu.
Subtitles: English (On/Off)
Release Date: 27 July 2015 Second Run DVD 094