Mahmood Farooqui is a Delhi based Dastango, historian, writer and filmmaker.
If by ‘political cinema’ we mean the depiction of politicians then Hindustani cinema has been deeply political from Inquilaab to Rajneeti. If political cinema is taken to mean cinema that shows the nation’s concerns then every Hindi film of the eighties, from Karma to Aag Hi Aag has been highly political. Just think of the number of films that have had terrorists as protagonists. Does the depiction of gangsters or smugglers, or the builder mafia and political collusion, make a political film? We have had hundreds of those. Weren’t they making an essential argument about our society? After all corrupt cops, corrupt politicians and corruption in general has been the bane of our heroes ever since I was a child. If political cinema means exposing the society’s ills or making a hard-hitting statement against ‘the system’ then our cinema has done that with unfailing regularity. By stating this I am not necessarily siding with the argument that everything, including your choice of toothbrush is a political act. Of course it is. That would mean that every film made or set in a particular space would be a political film, even if the politics is personal. It would be true, but it would be a trite truism. What then is a political film, especially in the Indian context?