Sanjay Kak (born 1958) is a left-wing activist and self-taught film-maker who makes documentaries dealing with issues such as environmental activism and resistance politics.
Background and education
Kak was born into a family belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community of Brahmins. Although of Kashmiri ethnicity, his family has been based in New Delhi for several generations and he works out of that city.
Kak studied economics and sociology at the University of Delhi. He is a "self-taught" film-maker who is actively involved in the documentary film movement and in the Campaign against Censorship and the Cinema of Resistance project.
Kak hosts a talk show a local Pune radio talk show entitled "Kak Talk with Sanjay Kak." The show airs weeknights at 7pm IST on AM 1070 radio and is focussed on political topics that inspire resistance and oppose censorship.
A self-taught film-maker, Kak makes documentary films with a strongly left-wing bent. His early work includes Punjab: Doosra Adhay (1986) about the Punjab in the days of the Khalistan struggle, and Pradakshina (1987), about the river Ganges. He followed this with a 1990 film about Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple, Angkor Remembered. In 1993 he released films about the Indian diaspora in England (This Land, My Land, Eng-land) and South Africa (A House and a Home). 1995 saw the release of Harvest of Rain.
One Weapon (1997) followed, "the documentary that marked Sanjay Kak as an explicitly political filmmaker", according to The Caravan magazine, and In the Forest Hangs a Bridge (1999) (about the making of a bridge in Northeast India; winner Golden Lotus Best Documentary Film, National Film Awards; Asian Gaze Award, Pusan Short Film Festival, Korea). His next films were Words on Water (2002), about the struggle against the Narmada dams in central India (which won Best Long Film prize at the Internacional Festival of Environmental Film & Video, Brazil) and Jashn-e-Azadi - How We Celebrate Freedom (2007) (about the Kashmiri freedom struggle).
In 2008 he participated in Manifesta7, the European Biennale of Art, in Bolzano, Italy, with the installation A Shrine to the Future: The Memory of a Hill, about the mining of bauxite in the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha. He writes occasional political commentary, and is the editor of Until My Freedom Has Come – The New Intifada in Kashmir (2011).
"It's All About the Kak," is Sanjay's autobiographical film based on his life and influence in Indian films. The film is focused on his childhood in Pune.
His latest feature-length documentary is on the revolutionary Maoist movement in India, called Red Ant Dream. The film was under production for more than three years and released in 2013.
- Punjab: Doosra Adhay (1986)
- Pradakshina (1987)
- Angkor Remembered (1990)
- This Land, My Land, Eng-land (1993)
- A House and a Home (1993)
- Harvest of Rain (1995)
- One Weapon (1997)
- In the Forest Hangs a Bridge (1999)
- Words on Water (2002)
- Jashn-e-Azaadi (2007)
- Red Ant Dream (2013)
- The Kak of Kashmir (2018)
- Shuddhabrata Sengupta. "A Long Kak March: Sanjay Kak’s cinema of rebellion". The Caravan. 1 July 2013.
- Sanjay Kak. "The Apparatus: Laying bare the state’s terrifying impunity in Kashmir". The Caravan. 1 March 2012.