Film stirs politics ahead of Indian general polls

Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:10pm EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A dark, angry film exploring the labyrinthine underbelly of Indian politics is winning handsome reviews from critics just as the country gears up for general elections beginning in April.

"Gulaal," directed by Anurag Kashyap, is an acerbic comment on caste- and region-based politics that promote competitive parochial interests, often undermining India's secular democratic structure.

The film uses student politics entangled with a covert rebellion against the government by an erstwhile princely community to highlight the pulls and pressures on democracy from growing regional aspirations and discontent.

"The film is a result of my anger at the deterioration of the democratic process in the country," Kashyap told Reuters.

"Gulaal" opens with a fiery speech from a leader of a formerly princely community who wants to win back the days of the maharajas from the government, which he accuses of duping the princely classes into giving up their royal claims, and then ignoring them.

The princely rebellion is a metaphor for the growing voice of regional parties and their aspirations.

Smaller Indian parties with regional or caste-based agendas are proving to be the key to building coalitions. Their increasing influence undermines the two main national parties.

The film also refers to corruption and coercion in politics and the disenchantment of youth with the democratic electoral process.   Continued...

<p>Movie director Anurag Kashyap poses during a photo call to present his movie "No Smoking" at the Rome International Film Festival October 24, 2007. REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli</p>