In 2011, protests began over the cancer of political corruption and the widespread exploitation of citizens in India. The movement grew as these protestors championed the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, a sweeping piece of legislation which called for thorough investigations of government corruption. Lacking a sufficient structure to advocate for the bill's passage and serve as the true voice of the people, they formed a new political power: the Aad Aadmi Party, otherwise known as the Common Man's Party. The thrilling feature-length documentary An Insignificant Man examines the glories and growing pains of this exciting new people's movement, and the man who serves as its passionate and controversial leader.
The party is headed by Arvind Kejriwal, the ultimate political outsider, and highly experienced strategist Yogendra Yadav. The filmmakers begin tracking them a full year before the election as they mount a grassroots effort to galvanize support from the people. They go door to door from one city to another, and hear their grievances on a number of issues including price gouging and police brutality.
Without a doubt, Kejriwal is an essential figure whose unafraid to speak truth to power, and he appears to be the agent of change that the people desperately need. As the film progresses, we begin to witness other aspects of Kejriwal's personality emerge as intolerance and inflexibility threaten to derail the party's forward locomotion. Interestingly, the real political superstar seems to be Yadav, the man behind the curtain who functions with great clarity and sophistication within a complicated political framework.
Part of the film's appeal lies in the clashes between both of their approaches to campaigning, and in the moments when idealism can become compromised under the weight of political process.
An Insignificant Man does not delve into the disillusionment that gripped the party starting in 2014 nor does it feature interviews with talking heads reflecting on events of the recent past. This is vital and urgent in-the-moment filmmaking of the highest order. The cameras are capturing the swelling of a revolution from the moment of its inception, and viewers will be transfixed as they witness history taking shape right before their eyes.
Directed by: Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla