Anand Patwardhan

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Anand Patwardhan
Anand Patwardhan
Alma mater University of Mumbai, Brandeis University, McGill University
Occupation Filmmaker
Known for Documentary filmmaking. In his films, we often hear him speak as narrator or thoughtful questioner.

Anand Patwardhan is an Indian documentary filmmaker known for his socio-political, human rights oriented films. Several of his films cover the rise of religious fundamentalism, sectarianism and casteism in India while others explore growing nuclear nationalism and unsustainable development.[1][2][3][4] Notable films include Bombay: Our City (Hamara Shahar) (1985), In Memory of Friends(1990), In the Name of God (Ram ke Nam) (1992), Father, Son, and Holy War (1995), A Narmada Diary (1995), War and Peace (2002) and Jai Bhim Comrade (2011), which have won national and international awards. A secular rationalist, Anand Patwardhan is a vocal critic of Hindutva ideology.


Anand Patwardhan speaking in ViBGYOR Film Festival 2011

Patwardhan was born in 1950, in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He completed a B.A. in English literature at Bombay University in 1970, a Bachelor of A.rts in Sociology at Brandeis University in 1972, and an Master of Arts in Communication Studies at McGill University in 1982.[5][6][7][8][9]


Patwardhan during a screening of Ram ke Naam at Kollam

Virtually all of Patwardhan's documentary films have faced censorship from the Indian government, eventually being cleared after legal action. His film Bombay: Our City was shown on TV after a four-year court case,[10] while Father, Son, and Holy War (1995) was adjudged in 2004 as one of 50 most memorable international documentaries of all time by DOX, Europe's leading documentary film magazine. Father, Son, and Holy War was shown on India’s National Network, Doordarshan, only in the year 2006, 11 years after its making, after a prolonged court battle which lasted ten years and ended with the nation’s Supreme Court ordering the network to telecast the film without any cuts.[11]

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), refused to certify his next film, War and Peace, released in 2002. The board demanded 21 cuts before it would be certified.[12] Patwardhan took the government to court, leading to the film being banned for over a year.[13] However, after a court battle, Patwardhan won the right to screen his film without a single cut.[14][15][16] As with his previous films, Patwardhan also successfully fought to force a reluctant national broadcaster, Doordarshan, to show this film on their national network. It was commercially released in multiplexes in 2005.[17]

His latest documentary, Jai Bhim Comrade, was based on a police firing incident against Dalits at Ramabai Colony in Mumbai in 1997. The film, which took 14 years to complete, is considered by many to be a watershed in Patwardhan's long career.[18] In 2013 the Sheffield International Film Festival honored Patwardhan with an Inspiration Award which it also conferred upon filmmaking legends like Dziga Vertov, Luis Bunuel, Agnes Varda, Chris Marker, Jean Rouch, D.A.Pennebaker and Patricio Guzman in the same year. In 2014 the Mumbai International Film Festival honored him with the V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award.



  • ...My entry into the world of the documentary began as a means of political, social intervention and thirty odd years later this is still a primary motive. If I am not satisfied with the results, it is not because of a failure of the medium, but because of the limits that our system puts on the distribution of such films. All my films are badly under-utilized and hence did not have the impact on the real world that they could have had...[32]
  • ...In India, the early documentary scene was dominated by government propaganda made by the Films Division of India, which produced newsreels and documentaries that were compulsorily shown before every commercial film. People either arrived deliberately late or walked out for a smoke during these films, and the tag of "boring" became inescapably attached to the documentary. It has taken several decades of sustained independent work to break this tag...[33]
  • ...You have to be a filmmaker, and then you have to be a lawyer as well...[34]
  • ...The real issues of the information gathering and disseminating systems have more to do with what kinds of programs are made, who makes and airs them and what impact they have. The role of the developed world as consumer and the role of the developing world as the consumed may now be complicated as the latter yields its own voracious elite, but the former continues to determine taste.[35]
  • ...It does not need much imagination to see that even in so-called advanced nations like the UK and the US, a great deal of racism and deep-seated religious prejudice fuels the propensity towards righteous war and the belief that one's own nation is always right and that "terrorism" resides only in the other...[36]
  • ... I do not wish to neutralize the horror I feel at the destruction of Buddhist monuments with the thought that my national leaders did the same thing a decade ago. But I do believe that if this act sparks in us the desire to fight intolerance of all kinds, then surely the Buddha will not have lived and taught in vain...[37]
  • ...One problem with our democracy is that a rigid class and caste hierarchy coupled with gross gender inequality has kept large sections of our population traditionally without a voice. But having no voice does not mean having no brain! On the contrary the voiceless have much to say and we can learn so much from their ways of seeing and thinking. Feelings of humanity seem to survive much better amongst the powerless than among the affluent and powerful...[38]


  1. ^ Interview Tehelka 13 October 2007.
  2. ^ 'Michael Moore’ of India, screening and Interview University of California, Berkeley 13 October 2004.
  3. ^ Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival American University School of Communication 16 June 2004.
  4. ^ Anand Patwardhan University of California, Los Angeles
  5. ^ Films of Anand Patwardhan Icarus Films, New York.
  6. ^ About Anand Official website.
  7. ^ Manas: Culture, Indian Cinema-Anand Patwardhan
  8. ^ Documentary Voices- Anand Patwardhan.
  9. ^ About Anand Patwardhan
  10. ^ Short is Sweet,Tehelka
  11. ^ Father, Son and Holy War The Frontline, The Hindu, September 2006.
  12. ^ Filmmaker's Battle to Tell India's Story in India The New York Times 24 December 2002.
  13. ^ Censorship and Litigation 
  14. ^ Alone against India's nuclear nationalism BBC News 12 August 2003.
  15. ^ Director Interview BBC Four, 4 August 2003.
  16. ^ Film Review BBC Four, 2002.
  17. ^ War and Peace hits the box office for the first time in India Tehelka, 25 June 2005.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Review India Today
  20. ^ Films Index Official website.
  21. ^ Awards
  22. ^ Screening of screen Patwardhan's films at Stanford University, October 2001
  23. ^ Father, Son and Holy War – Review and Awards
  24. ^ 3rd KaraFilm Festival Karachi International Film Festival, website.
  25. ^ 51st National Film Awards - 2004 Official listings Directorate of Film Festivals Official website.
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Ram Bahadur Trophy for Best Film, Festival of South-Asian Documentaries, 2011, Film South Asia, retrieved January 1, 2014 
  29. ^ Golden Firebird Award, Hong Kong International Film Festival, 2012, IMDb, retrieved January 1, 2014 
  30. ^ "59th National Film Awards for the Year 2011 Announced" (Press release). Press Information Bureau (PIB), India. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  31. ^ Palmarès / Award-winning films 2012, Jean Rouch Film International Film Festival, retrieved January 1, 2014 
  32. ^ Tehelka Interview - November 2009
  33. ^ Anand Patwardhan, the Michael Moore of India -Interview UC Berkeley News
  34. ^ New York Times article, 24 December 2002
  35. ^ Anand Patwardhan and The Messengers of Bad News - SOC American University
  36. ^ BBC Interview, 2003
  37. ^ Destruction of Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan and the Babri Masjid
  38. ^ Filmmaker as activist - The Hindu

External links[edit]

Websites on Anand Patwardhan's work[edit]




Video clips[edit]