Let us declare that a state of war exists

“Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist so long as the Indian toiling masses and the natural resources are being exploited by a handful of parasites.” Those are not the words of a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), though the film has that too. These words are of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary freedom fighter who has today been appropriated by everybody for their own purposes.

The most remarkable thing about Sanjay Kak’s new film Red Ant Dream is Punjab. Occupying more than a third of the film, its use of the revolutionary sentiment in today’s Punjab takes forward the debate on the Maoist and other resistance movements in India. Instead of getting into the debates around the Maoist movement in central India, the film makes for a powerful document of the how and why the revolutionary ideal lives in India 2013.

Why is it that such large gatherings in Punjab are thinking of their world through the words of Bhagat Singh and the revolutionary poetry of poetry of Avtar Singh ‘Paash’? There is something happening here that is beyond the debates around the current Maoist movement we have so far engaged in.

Red Ant Dream alternates between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, arguing for the revolutionary ideal which seeks not only justice but also to preserve a world that rapacious big capital is out to destroy with more than a little help from the Indian state. You may have your reservations about revolution, but sit back and prepare for this tour de force of a film that will unsettle you more than a bit.

With characteristic Sanjay Kak techniques – a little voice-over, poetry, found footage and so on, and the mixing of such material to make the most gripping use of the documentary form in India, Red Ant Dream takes forward the conversation about resistance and capitalism in India.

Red Ant Dream screens at the India Habitat Centre on 7 May.

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