Kairos with Anand Patwardhan, Rakesh Sharma and Sanjay Kak

Address: Shedhalle, Rote Fabrik, Seestrasse 395, Post box: 771, CH-8038 Zürich
Date: Sunday, November 24, 2013
Timings and details:
11 am:

11.30 am: Jai Bhim Comrade, Anand Patwardhan, 2011, 199 mins
Language: Marathi and Hindi/Subtitles: English
3.15 pm: Final Solution, Rakesh Sharma, 2004, 149 mins
Language: Hindi and Gujarati/Subtitles: English
7.30 pm: Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom), Sanjay Kak, 2007, 138 mins
Language: English, Urdu and Kashmiri/Subtitles: English

Please note: Each film will be preceded by an introduction and followed by a discussion with the curator. There will also be a break between each screening.

If recent global events, like the Occupy movement and the Springs in Arab nations, are anything to go by then it would seem that kairos, that crucial moment, that fleeting rightness of time and place for actions, words or movement is upon us. Historical, political and social contexts notwithstanding, strains of neo-fascism of all shapes, sizes, colours and varieties can be identified across the globe.

The idea of kairos holds true for India, now, more than ever before. The most divisive and eagerly awaited elections, in India, ostensibly the world’s biggest democracy, are around the corner. Although, there are never any straight answers vis-à-vis the (Indian) electoral system, it is quite apparent that the prime ministerial campaign of the Hindu right-wing leader, Narendra Modi, is gaining momentum as the country moves towards the general elections of May, 2014.

For now, the task at hand in India, as also elsewhere, is to keep the unapologetic right-wing away from the seat of power by, among other things, voting against it.

While in India there is a long tradition of voting against certain parties and ideologies, there haven’t been very many occasions where the Indian citizen has had the opportunity to whole-heartedly vote for. By extension, the upcoming elections are as critical as they are because gross mismanagements committed by those in positions of power have thus far gone mostly unchecked. In giving voice to India’s disenchanted, Jai Bhim Comrade (2011) by Anand Patwardhan, Final Solution (2004) by Rakesh Sharma and Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom, 2007) by Sanjay Kak highlight the treacheries committed against the subaltern in the lead-up to this occasion of kairos.

Jai Bhim Comrade follows the rousing poetry and music of India’s Dalits, who in being treated as “untouchables” were for long denied their fundamental rights. Theirs is a story of the single-minded pursuit of emancipation from parochial religious and social constructs. Final Solution is an indictment of a political system that under leadership of Narendra Modi, supported if not sponsored, the pre-planned violence against Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002. Jashn-e-Azadi explores the meaning of freedom in the embattled Kashmir valley, wherein the role of the Indian military has been repeatedly questioned. Each of these films has fought the censorship rigmarole and emerged triumphant, if somewhat scathed. This, however, does not prevent uncalled for interventions.

Recent screenings of Kak’s Democracy trilogy in Bombay resulted in visits from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the chief police agency in India. Jashn-e-Azadi is the second chapter of Kak’s trilogy, which is book ended by Words on Water (2002) and Red Ant Dream (2013); the former is focused on people’s movement against large dams in the Narmada valley and the latter chronicles the Maoist movement in India. The CBI is currently using intimidation tactics to ‘investigate’ the ‘reasons’ behind the screenings of these documentaries.

Incidentally, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary carries the following memo on kairos: This word doesn’t usually appear in our free dictionary, but the definition from our premium Unabridged Dictionary is offered here on a limited basis. Note that some information is displayed differently in the Unabridged.

No better time than now for the word to enter the free dictionary, as it were, so that the potential of the word might somehow illuminate the potential of the moment.

About the artists:
Anand Patwardhan
has been making political documentaries for nearly three decades pursuing diverse and controversial issues that are at the crux of social and political life in India. Many of his films were at one time or another banned by state television channels in India and became the subject of litigation by Patwardhan who successfully challenged the censorship ruling in court.
Rakesh Sharma is an Indian documentary filmmaker, based in Goa. Final Solution was rejected as an entry at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2004 due to objections by the Censor Board of India, but went on two win two awards at the 54th Berlin International Film Festival (2004). 
Sanjay Kak
is an independent documentary filmmaker with interests in ecology, alternatives and resistance politics. His films include Red Ant Dream (2013) about the persistence of the revolutionary ideal in India, Words on Water (2002) about the struggle against the Narmada dams in central India.

Supported by: Shedhalle

Captions/ Details: Clockwise from featured image
I) Still from Jai Bhim Comrade, 2011, Anand Patwardhan
II) Still from Final Solution, 2004, Rakesh Sharma
III) Still from Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom), 2007, Sanjay Kak
IV-V) Documentation of screenings