By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “An Insignificant Man”; Directors: Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla; Cast: Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Santosh Koli, Sheila Dikshit; Rating: **1/2
“An Insignificant Man” is an intermittently inspiring documentary that chronicles the meteoric rise of Arvind Kejriwal – the anti-corruption activist-turned-politician to the Chief Minister of Delhi.
This 100-minute documentary starts with stating that corruption on an epidemic of epic scale has hit India. And like every other political documentary, this one too has a clip of Nehru’s memorable speech, “Tryst with Destiny,” before it takes us directly into the heart of Delhi and into the work of Kejriwal — the anti-corruption movement, his fight to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill where he argues – “We are not asking to change the government, we are just asking to change the law.”
The documentary then trails Kejriwal as he forms the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), announces a lofty manifesto at their campaign during the Delhi Assembly election of 2013 and surprisingly stuns the two major parties of the country. The film technically winds up in 2013.
Packed with discussions, debates, conflicts and embarrassment faced by the AAP, the film is interesting at every stage. Except for the private moments shared between the AAP members, directors Kushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, which offer us nothing that has not been seen on the public sphere. But the radio, television and a film clip, the Amitabh Bachchan-Ajay Devgn starrer “Satyagraha”, are astutely used to propel their narrative forward.
At one stage, after the death of Santosh Koli, a Kejriwal aide, the plot takes shape of a political thriller. It is touching to see a leader break down before his people. While the film is supposed to be about Kejriwal, it is obvious that he is just the face of the party. The brain behind his success is Yogendra Yadav, a suave and distinguished speaker, who had been a part of numerous political movements at the grassroots level, before coming on board the AAP.
The pompous Sheila Dikshit and few modest members of the BJP make their presence felt. Kiran Bedi and Anna Hazare, who were the forerunners of the anti-corruption movement, are conspicuous by their absence.
On the surface, the film seems to be a balanced effort to portray the long haul war against corruption. But by the end of the narrative, it seems to be tilted in favour of the soft-spoken Kejriwal who initially plays the humble outsider card before slowly revealing his true colours.
Shot with hand-held cameras, the film offers some compelling shots. The background score adds to the drama.
Overall, the film, though journalistically fuzzy, seems to be made with an idealistic passion.
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