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Film Screenings

Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University

Abhijit Banerjee, Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Screening of Mandir, masjid, mandal and Marx: Democracy in India (45 minutes)

The film, by Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University, tells the story of the interaction of the people and their elected representatives in the plains carved out by India’s great river – the Ganga – flowing through three strategic states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Filmed in the course of a 1000-mile journey from Delhi to Calcutta during the turbulent general elections of 1991, it provides a rare glimpse into the role of religion, caste and communism in India’s democratic politics.

Screening of The strange case of the water that went up the great-grandfather’s arse and other stories of democracy by Abhijit Banerjee

Democracy is humanity’s bravest experiment. The idea that everyone–women and men, poor and rich, illiterate and educated–should be in charge of shaping the state and society they live in, is at once totally obvious and deeply radical. And yet, the lived experience of democracy is almost always disappointing. Corruption is often the rule and change is slow and difficult.

This film is about living this tension, through the eyes and voices of every day participants in the world’s largest democracy, India. Using unique footage that we shot in dozens of locations all over the country over eight years, with interviews with everyone from theorists to thugs (who are sometimes the same people), we document how profoundly the so-called bit-players in the democratic narrative—the often semi-literate voters, the local activists and the small-time leaders–have absorbed the democratic ethos. For all their cynicism and fear, it is for the poor, the marginalized and the powerless that the idea of democracy matters the most, what gives them the greatest hope for the future.

Combining animation, folk music and street plays with casual conversations at street corners, expert analyses and stump speeches, this is a documentary about a nation, a people and one extraordinary idea.