Red Ant Dream

48th Edition
15th June 2013

This week we bring to you the most recent work of an important independent filmmaker, Sanjay Kak. Kak has been framing the edges of the cherished project of democracy in our country in all his films. In ‘Red Ant Dream’ he attempts to look beyond the label ‘internal security threat’ and piece together a story of a struggle that imagines citizenship and rights very differently from the one that mainstream democracy defines. He has been tracking different struggles across the country and in the process puts forward a damning critique of the response of the state to these movements.
Kak has been constantly redefining the space of independent documentary filmmaking in India through his work. Shooting over long periods and in the process gaining trust and access to the struggles that have often been under represented or misrepresented by mainstream media, Kak is able to put forward filmic essays that are dense and devoid of platitudes. We are pleased to be able to bring his new film to the FD Zone.

Red Ant Dream
120 mins | Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles

The revolutionary patriot had said, almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But in the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle.
But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world.

‘Maoism teaches us that self-preservation is possible only through war’ the disembodied voice of an ideologue fills the forest, now peopled by armed guerillas. This subterranean war broke out more than half a century ago, and the continuing battle is shaped not just with bullets and explosives, but also ideas.

‘Population is the center of gravity’, says the officer charged with training policemen in jungle warfare in Bastar, with turning them into soldiers who can take-on the Maoist rebellion – ‘whichever side the population tilts, that side wins’.

This is the struggle that the Indian Prime Minister has referred to as the ‘single greatest internal security threat to the nation’. And as if in answer, the words of the radical Punjabi poet Pash return to haunt us – ‘If the security of the land calls for a life without conscience… then the security of the land is a threat to us’. His words draw us back into a zone of conscience, of those who resolutely resist the inequalities and injustices of the present, in defence of another utopian ideal of the world.

The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream (2013) follows Jashn-e-Azadi (2007) about the idea of freedom for Kashmir, and Words on Water (2002) about the people’s movement against large dams in the Narmada valley.

Director Sanjay Kak
Camera Ranjan Palit, Setu & Sanjay Kak
Editor Tarun Bhartiya
Written by Sanjay Kak & Tarun Bhartiya
Sound Design Madhu Apsara
Music Word Sound Power / Delhi Sultanate & Chris McGuiness