4th Gorakhpur film festival is now just four days away. This time we are having a four day festival (5th to 8th February) on the theme of resistance against the new forms of imperialism or as we call it, American imperialism.
We are talking to filmmakers on this common issue. On political cinema. On questions like what is political for them? What is this debate about ‘clean money’ in political documentary filmmaking? How important is distribution for an independent documentary filmmaker?
This time noted documentary filmmaker Paromita Wohra is answering the question, “What is political” and with that talking with us on her films and how 'personal' and 'political' are interconnected.
"It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules." and from the exploration of that space arise the suggestions of change.
Paromita vohra:~ For me, the political is anything that deals with power and how it is used - it could be the power of the state, the power of movements, the power of language to shape our ideas and thence our lives. Anything that chooses to intervene in this constant flow of power between human beings, genders, organisations, state formation becomes political.
Yes I don't feel there's any ambiguity in the fact that my films are political.I've a great interest in the power of ideas, of discourse to shape the course of events and actions and my films are engaged with the enterprise of re-engaging urban people in the political discussion at a philosophical, rather than an advocacy level. I also feel that the notion that the political is fixed - that there is only one way in which you can be politically engaged ( a sort of broadly connecting to or replicating movement politics and speaking of politics connected to the state) is one of the reasons people easily disconnect from political responsibility and ethics in their lives. So I'm also very interested in overturning this canon of political topics and the rigidity of what we understand to be political; in emphasising that each of our actions and decisions are part of that political flow and asking for a more reflective politics and from there, a more creative political action, perhaps.
The complex relationship between the personal and the political must necessarily be explored and examined constantly in order to present politics as something meaningful and something that each of us is concerned with.
I also think that when we think of intervening in the political enterprise of democracy - then films which work by the logic of proof or evidence of injustice rely on a functioning system of delivering justice. When this does not exist, the documentary cannot confine itself to this idea of exposing injustice alone. It needs to reinvigorate the political discussion, provide an experience of diversity, insist on the presence of multiple viewpoints in order to be politically meaningful.
But I also have to say that for me my films work by the politics of what is not being spoken of - and in the broader discussions of progressive politics, the politics of language don't much get discussed. Eventually it is not what we say, but how we say it that determines the meanings people make. The unwillingness to look at these nuances of power is something that seriously compromises progressive politics. So to an extent I try in my films to constantly bring up that interplay between content and form, between the said and the implied - not only in relation to what the film is about, but in relation to what I see being discussed in the general arena of progressive politics.
All the films don't speak of personal life though - but anyway this very masculinist distinction that personal life is not important is something I find laughable. I think it's very possible, while speaking of personal things and intimate issues to show how they are influenced by and also influence the larger equations of class, caste, gender that drive power.
And because it is about this interplay, the films often have a playful form, a hopscotch feel between different registers.