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Interview with Lalit Vachani

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This interview with filmmaker Lalit Vachani explores the unique relationship between filmmaker and radical political subject. Vachani has made two documentary films on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). His first film, The Boy in the Branch (1993) was filmed mere months before the December 1992 Babri Masjid demolition. The documentary captures the unassuming ways local RSS shakha (branch) members recruit young boys in Nagpur into their right-wing milieu. Eight years later, Vachani’s film, The Men in the Tree (2002) revisits the same RSS members and presents their narratives of the demolition and how the Sangh has shaped their lives. This interview asks Vachani to reflect on the constantly changing power dynamics that a filmmaker must negotiate with his interlocutors. As the politics of representation are now changing with far right political groups actively producing their own media content, Vachani is invited to reflect on his past films alongside the present concerns of the growing visibility of Hindu right politics.
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Keywords: Hindu nationalism; Lalit Vachani; RSS; documentary; media; representation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York University

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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