An Insignificant Man
Director: Kushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla
Duration: 100 mins
An Insignificant Man(2016), screened at CAFF’18, is a socio-political documentary on the rise to power of Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of The Aam Aadmi Party. Set in the backdrop of the anti-corruption rallies of 2011-12, the newly formed AAP led by Arvind Kejriwal, after breaking away from Anna Hazare and his allies, brought about a storm in the 2013 Delhi state assembly elections against the two powerhouses of Indian politics, the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The documentary gives us a deeper view into the working of a political party and the struggles of fighting for relevance in one of the most politically charged regions of India, the National Capital, Delhi. Regarding themselves to be the ‘people’s party’, the Aam Aadmi Party sought to tackle a few of the most important problems faced by the ordinary men and women of Delhi, such as water shortage, lack of gas pipelines and electricity. Kejriwal believed the only way to solve these problems for the people is by changing the system, to make it transparent for everyone to the people. The documentary portrays this belief of his as the reason that led to the eventual creation of AAP and the fight for change in Delhi politics.
The documentary takes us through the various ups and downs that the new-born party faced, the early excitement, the struggle for relevance, the election campaign, the controversies, and the eventual victory at the end of the election.
Denied an initial release and certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the film was released after a drive on censorship in India, supported by the International Documentary Association (IDA), the European Documentary Network (EDN), and an appeal to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. The film was finally released in India on 17 November 2017, in select theaters. Owing to a great response, the film was expanded to a nationwide release where it ran for 8 weeks.
The film was screened at the 2018 edition of the Cineville Annual Film Festival, organized by Filmtantra. It received praise and appreciation for its brilliant depiction of events, skillfully managed narrative, and an engaging premise.
After gaining approval from critics within India, the film went on to impress worldwide audiences and received a host of accolades. It received a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival and resulted in tightly packed theatres at several film festivals including BFI London Film Festival and The Busan International Film Festival. It won ‘Best Documentary’ at the Warsaw Film Festival, New York International Film Festival, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Film Festival. The Huffington Post has regarded it to be one of the best documentaries on politics and included it in their 12 Must-See Documentaries About Current World Politics.
The Cineville Annual Film Festival (CAFF) has screened several films like this one and has provided many other such experiences of great cinema to the film enthusiasts of Delhi before. CAFF is set to become much more accessible and able to serve the interests of those interested in films beyond a source of entertainment all over the world. The aim of CAFF is to bring off-beat, meaningful, and engaging cinema to those passionate about novel stories presented gracefully. This edition of the Cineville will be back with much more to offer and provide its audience with an interactive and interesting experience of cinema and the art of filmmaking.
-written by Debajit