Documentary – An Insignificant Man

An Insignificant Man

Steve Taylor-Bryant gets wrapped up in the modern political environment in India as he watches the film from directors Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla about Arvind Kejriwal…

I shall be honest from the outset and let you know I know nothing of life in India. For a man who loves his politics like I do, I don’t know about the politics of India. If I’m honest I still don’t really know a lot even after watching An Insignificant Man but it’s not a huge criticism of the film, although it is something I would have liked to have got from it. The film is pretty much just about the rise of Arvind Kejriwal from social activist to a man who holds high office as the Chief Minister of Dehli, the capital of India. Along with his colleague Yogendra Yadav, Kerjiwal starts a new party promising to fight for the poor of the country, to get them free access to amenities we take for granted like water, and to stop corruption in parliament. Their journey is an interesting one, running similar themes to those political stories I follow in the west, and is easy for a man who doesn’t know the country to follow. It just seems to lack guts, some substance, something that, to me at least, makes it stand out from the crowd.

It’s an hour and half long and the really interesting parts, the bits that made me pay more attention and want to learn more, unfortunately come as what seems to be an after thought, just presented as words at the end of the documentary. For all the interesting stuff regarding forming the AAP, about taking on the Congress Party and BJP, you don’t really learn much. It’s like a long, interesting enough but not great, news report. Then, in those final minutes when the words go up against the black screen, you learn that…

The Anti-Corruption Bill was blocked in parliament.

That Kerjiwal dissolves the government in protest without consulting the people.

That Dehli had no government FOR A WHOLE YEAR.

That in new elections the AAP took 67/70 seats and finally granted the free water and electricity reductions they had promised.

That Yogendra Yadav was expelled from the party he co-founded for “anti-party activities” and went on to form a new party.

Where was my documentary about that? Where was the breakdown of relations between two obviously principled men trying to make a difference? Where was the footage of how Dehli not having a government for a year which, to my mind, left Kerjawal as a dictator? Where was the story of rebuilding the political system, of the giant strides that all sides must have taken for the cogs of democracy to once again start turning?

For an interesting yet brief foray into a political system I don’t understand, An Insignificant Man was watchable. It was okay. I can’t help but feel slightly cheated though as the text of what happened next opens up some really juicy questions and, in my eyes, would have made a better film.

Image - LFF.
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