Having had a harrowing time getting a green signal for the release of "An Insignificant Man" -- a docu-drama on the political journey of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal -- Khushboo Ranka, its co-director, says making films based on real-life events seems like the "biggest crime" in India.
The "humiliation" she and co-director Vinay Shukla faced in getting the film cleared is difficult to forget, she added.
As "An Insignificant Man" inches closer to hitting the screens on November 17, the duo has heaved a sigh of relief. Would they be interested in making another political documentary?
"It is very tricky. One of the biggest challenges is to communicate to people that we don't have any ulterior motive in making the film. And that has taken so much energy... to communicate that we are here just to make our film and have people watch it, not convince people all the time that it's worth watching. I'd like to take a break," Ranka told IANS.
Under Pahlaj Nihalani, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked the makers to get NOCs (No Objection Certificates) from all the politicians mentioned in the documentary. Interestingly, CBFC wanted an NOC from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.
The director duo and producer Anand Gandhi were bailed out when the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) gave the film a U/A certificate.
Ranka said the NOC stunt was the "least of the problems".
"They humiliate you. It's like... if you make a film on real events, real subjects, it is the biggest crime in this country. It took us a year to really understand what the response to the film has been. It took us time to absorb the stuff that had been happening around," she added.
But if they had to revisit a political story again, Modi would be a good subject, Ranka said, adding: "It will be challenging also, which is why perhaps the subject seems more attractive."
Shukla said he is game for making another political documentary, but has no set plans.
Given the political climate in the country, are they apprehensive about the reactions to "An Insignificant Man", which takes a behind-the-scenes look at Kejriwal's journey from "aam aadmi" to Chief Minister?
"Not really. We already have a lot of individuals enjoying the film. People are walking away making their own conclusions, and thinking deeper about India as a country. The response till now has been very positive," said Shukla.
Knowing that they could have landed in a soup for making a political documentary, why didn't they pick another subject -- and why Kejriwal?
"Why not?" retorted Ranka, and continued: "It is one of the biggest stories of the political landscape in the last few years."
"It also turned out to be one of the most interesting and unexpected stories of Indian politics. I think it is a story worth telling," she added.
"An Insignificant Man" is a result of 400 hours of footage recorded over the course of a year, capturing the clashes between idealism and politics during the Aam Aadmi Party's 2013 election campaign.
The film is releasing under the banners of Vice and Memesys Lab, and is being released through theatre on-demand VKAAO's crowdsourcing model.
(Kishori Sud can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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