Mahaantam (The Greatest)
28 mins - Hindi
Writer - Director - Cinematographer - Editor
The film Mahaantam is the outcome of an endeavor to create a fiction film which revolves around the idea of Nationalism. The project was conceived around the background of the 2016 JNU incident, which isa result of extreme radicalization of the popular imagination, a key player in which is their relation to the identity of being Indian, and their understanding of the concept of the Nation and Nationalism. The film is imagined as a subsequent film for the last Classroom Project ‘Vande Mataram’, which was a documentary about the same topic. The film follows the life of Gauri, a 7-year-old girl, over four days, where a small, insignificant incident at her school gives rise to a series of events which lead to a grave end. It is her first glimpse into the ugly side of nationalism, a concept she is not able to comprehend in its entirety, but which makes a lasting impression on her young mind. The film deals with the ideas of a forced and cultivated sense of patriotism and nationalism, and how this dynamic especially plays out in the minds of children. The film also tries to bring forth the restrictive capacities of patriotism, and wants the audience to reflect on the fact that nationalism doesn’t give the freedom to question itself, and in the process society curbs its own freedom of expression and thought. The film chooses to do this through fiction as there is more control over the finer details of the medium, and hence there is more space for subtlety, especially when it comes to talking about complex socio-political issues.
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