Published On: Sat, Jul 6th, 2013

Red Ant Dream: Kak’s cinema of Resistance

Red Ant Dream, Sanjay Kak’s latest film, invokes memories of struggle, Revolution and redemption. A poetic representation of revolution and a tribute to people’s war, Red Ant Dream is a cinema of resistance, writes Sheikh Saaliq
 

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Tse Tung

Few years ago, I saw a documentary film, which a friend gave to me. I watched it till the very end. Once finished, I played it again – for I searched a meaning. The meaning of ‘Azadi’ (Freedom), which to me, before watching this documentary had altogether a different connotation. The film inspired me. It made me believe in believing the significance of the word Azadi itself. It turned my life toward a different dimension. I, for the first time understood that occupation is not only about tyranny, killings and oppression. Something more perilous was hidden beneath – capitalism and foreign investment, just to fulfill their neo-liberal aspirations. I, for the first time, understood what sacrifice and revolution meant. The film celebrated Martyrdom, Revolution and of course Freedom. The film created a ripple among many people who believe, Kashmir being an integral part of India. It had taken a strong stand against the Indian Army’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. The film was ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’ (How We Celebrate Freedom).

There are documentary films that try to tell emotionally complex stories and succeed in making an impact. Red Ant Dream fortunately, is one of those films. It is an awe inspiring video documentary from the Red areas of India. This film documents the emergence of the Indian revolutionary procedure, coming as it is in a world of struggle, mass upheaval, revolt and revolution!

Red Ant Dream, Sanjay Kak’s new documentary, may seem no different from his earlier documentary, ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’, which talked about Kashmir, but this movie, although being similar in the way of approaching and weaving has its own nucleus. The nucleus – around which the lives of Niyamgiri Adivasis, their Struggle and their war against the state revolves.  It maps the lives of Adivasi’s, activists in Punjab and the armed rebels from Bastar – who all in a different way are a part of a movement. It demonstrates the life-or-death circumstances that have driven the Adivasi people to armed struggle.  Red Ant Dream portrays a romantic picture of young Adivasis who are fighting for a cause.

“There are documentary films that try to tell emotionally complex stories and succeed in making an impact. Red Ant Dream fortunately, is one of those films.”

The film is filled with the syringe of Revolution. One feels so mesmerized by seeing people, who hardly can manage their night meals, shouldering rifles with their fingers fixed to the trigger. A hope can be seen in the eyes of women, who are wearing torn chappals and a tanned uniform but are a part of the revolutionary force that is fighting a people’s war. A war to save their living and turn their habitat into a living heaven – which every human being carves for. A people’s war which is justifiable, which one will believe in, when Azad, the former spokesperson CPI (Moaist) say’s ““Maoism teaches us that self-preservation is possible only through war.” Azad, the revolutionary was killed in an encounter in July 2010.  Such is the influence of Azad in the Moaist movement that people consider him as their guru. Ladda, an Adivaisi activists, in the face of camera declares, “Azad is my guru, and if he is a Maoist, then I am too.” With perfect lucidity, the film shows the association of the activists and Adivasi’s towards the movement and their support towards the cause.

The film shows Bhagat Singh stating that “the state of war does exist and shall exist”. The activists and farmers of Punjab cheering ‘Inquilab Zindabad’(Long Live Revolution). The guerrillas of Bastar and Adivasi’s of Niyamgiri sloganeering Jan, Jangal and Jameen, which calls for the protection of their own homes and habitat they live in. All these things itself show struggle – the struggle to live their lives and the justified demands of a human – to live free and celebrate the living.

Yes the state of war exists.

The film also gives secret glimpse into the world of the Naxalites and a meet with rebel fighters as well as those victimized by this conflict. It talks about the Salwa Judam operation and other human rights violations done to the victims.  The poetry of Avatar Singh and the quotes of Bhagat Singh, Karl Marx and Carl von Clausewitz have weaved the whole film in such a way that it grips the viewer till the end making him think over these lines.

Capitalism doesn’t get into a head-on collision with communism in ‘Red Ant Dream’, and that makes it interesting. There are two forces fighting against each other but their goals are not global. It’s more of a war between two entities. This film is a saga of heroism and sacrifice in the face of a brutal enemy camouflaged as the World’s “largest democracy”.

Red Ant Dream chronicles a burning issue. This is no Bollywood representation of Moaits or Bhagat Singh. The Quentin Tarantino of documentary making in India, without any doubt, by breaking all rules in film making, has made a gem and a thought provoking film which leaves you thinking till the very end. It is a moving meditation.

One of the strong points of the film is its clear depiction of the severity of environmental racism and the role of imperialism in creating it. Liberal environmentalists as well as Leftists who fail to honestly engage with the very serious flaws between Capitalism and a healthy thriving planet obviously maintain political lines that are incomplete and will both result in ecological decay.

The film has celebrated the lives of Bhagat Singh, Pash and Commander Azad, who all died for a cause. All of them were revolutionaries. This shows were the true understandings of the filmmaker lie – the Vendetta for one’s own existence. The film makes you listen the voices from the darkest corners of Jungle which till the time where shadowed by non-existence. It makes you listen that the society needs to be saved from the authoritarians, oppressors, and hierarchical hegemons who have made this society rotten. It teaches you, how the lives of the obsolete and the unfeasible (as said by west) can shake the roots of the so-called-self-styled biggest democracy in the world.  The film paints the struggle in the colors of hope. Not leaving aside the usage of theater, dance, music and Poetry, Red Ant Dream is a film which only Sanjay Kak can make. It is a tribute to the Revolutionaries.

Red Ant Dream chronicles a burning issue. This is no Bollywood representation of Moaists or Bhagat Singh. The Quentin Tarantino of documentary making in India, without any doubt, by breaking all rules in film making, has made a gem and a thought provoking film which leaves you thinking till the very end. It is a moving meditation.

A must own for anyone who is earnestly making an allowance for a whole new world, which in true terms is ‘Azaad’.

This review was also Published in The Express Tribune (blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/18183/red-ant-dream-a-documentary-about-kashmir-india-and-freedom/#comment-236407)


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