This collection of essays and interviews aims to enquire, in the post-colonial Indian context, if cinema can be a democratised people’s medium and a tool for a progressive transformation of the society. It starts building a repository, perhaps for the first time, of first-person experiences of collectives and individual film practitioners in India, who have worked with independent documentary cinema, with a similar enquiry. It aims to chronicle how politically conscious contemporary film collectives are re-fashioning the erstwhile notion of film societies as spaces not just for critical film appreciation but also for broader socio-political engagement and action.
The independent political documentary in India is a little over 40 years old. It can be argued that in terms of both content and form, it is a far more exciting and vibrant place than its fiction counterpart. The horrors of neoliberal dystopia are perhaps best captured raw and candid in the documentary than in fictionalised representations of unfurling life. However, little has been written about the independent documentary in India, which seriously impairs a critical engagement with it. This book wishes to contribute to the discourse, by placing the Indian documentary into historical and material context, from which its present depth and spread have emerged.