An Insignificant Man an upcoming Hindi/English Indian political thriller directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla and produced by filmmaker Anand Gandhi (known for his film Ship of Theseus), and is about the rise of anti-corruption protests in India and the formation and rise to power of the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party).
The documentary is about the rise of anti-corruption protests in India and the formation and rise to power of the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man’s Party), which was an independent political faction that gained traction through campaigns against the corruption in Indian politics and was headed by political leader Arvind Kejriwal, and the chronicle journey of the party from its formation in December 2012 to the Delhi state elections in December 2013, concluding with the Delhi elections. The film will release in India on the 17th of November 2017.
The film was earlier known as “Proposition for a Revolution”.
The production of the film is being done through crowdfunding. This form of production has become increasingly popular in Indian cinema due to the rise of a major independent film movement in the country. When asked in an interview with The Hindu, a major newspaper in India, on why the team chose crowdfunding, director Vinay Shukla said “Our film is a documentary set in contemporary politics and investors didn’t find it an interesting proposition. Those interested in investing wanted to know if we were supporting AAP or against it,” Not wanting to compromise the neutral stand of their film, the team opted for crowd funding.
The film has won support from the Sundance Institute, IDFA & Asian Network of Documentary Fund. The film was selected for and won awards at the Hot Docs Forum Toronto, NFDC Film Bazaar WIP Lab & DocEdge Kolkatta.
The film was initially denied a theatrical release in India by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The filmmakers were directed by the board to get a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit. Further, the board had also asked them to remove references to beep out names of the two biggest political parties in India, Congress and BJP from the documentary. Responding to the CBFC directive, Ranka said, “We are definitely not going to ask for NOCs from the PM or the CM. It would set a wrong precedent, apart from doing something unethical. It is not in the purview of the CBFC to protect the feelings of politicians. It is bizarre that one has to take their permission to critique or document their political activities.” In response, the filmmakers also launched a censorship awareness campaign which was supported by International Documentary Association(IDA) and European Documentary Network (EDN).
The filmmakers later appealed to Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. The tribunal agreed with the filmmakers’ point of view that an NOC would defeat the purpose of a documentary and passed a landmark verdict in favour of the filmmakers. “There is considerable merit in the submission of the Appellant that requiring NOC from public personalities would cull the documentary cinema, rather render the making of a documentary on political scenario nigh impossible”, the tribunal stated. “In these circumstances, requiring a filmmaker to obtain an NOC from the affected parties or characters in the film to whom references are made, is tantamount to the CBFC abdicating its statutory functions. This is neither desirable nor permissible at law.” About muting the names of political parties, the FCAT said, “Public interest is best served in upholding the Right to Freedom of Expression rather than protecting an undeserved reputation.” The film finally was cleared by the tribunal with a U/A certificate without any cuts.
The film will be releasing theatrically in India on 17th November 2017 . The film has been acquired by Vice for a global television and digital release.