What is a film? According to Jean-Louis Comolli and Jean Narboni, a film is, on the one hand, a particular product, manufactured within given economic relations, and involving labour to produce. This is a condition to which even 'independent' filmmakers and the 'new cinema are subject, assembling a number of workers. On the other hand, as a material product of the system, it is also an ideological product of the system. No filmmaker can, by individual efforts, change the economic relations governing the manufacture and distribution of her/his filma. "Because every film is part of economic system it is also a part of the ideological system, for 'cinema' and 'art' are branches of ideology. None can escape: somewhere, like pieces in the jigsaw, all have their own allotted place. The system is blind to its own nature, but in spite of that, indeed because of that, when all the pieces are fitted together they give a very clear picture. But this does not mean that every film-maker plays a similar role. Reactions differ. It is the job of criticism to see where they differ, and slowly, patiently, not expecting any magical transformations to take place at the wave of a slogan, to help change the ideology which conditions them". No doubt that this rather highly ideological evaluation is equally true in case of the films which depict the Naxalites directly or indirectly, the films which feature in this book.
But what was the Naxalite movement) In this context, it would be pertinent to look at the perceptions of Mrinal Sen, the eminent art/political film director of India, about the Naxalite movement: "The struggle! On the political front, the struggle of the extremist faction had already assumed immense proportions. Starting with a peasant uprising in 1967, at Naxalbari, an area in North Bengal, it soon spread like a firestorm in several pockets of the country, all restricted topeasant -belts. A quote from Mao Tse-tung, a single spark can start a prairie fire (1930), became popular among the extremists, known all over as Naxalites Strangely, the quote invaded the city walls and the suburbs in no time. Rightly or wrongly, the movement eventually turned out to be an urban phenomenon. The students erupted not totally in my city (Kolkata) but also, to an extent, elsewhere too - in Andhra Pradesh, in Kerala, in Punjab, in Orissa and Bihar. Simultaneously, or, before or after, the movement surfaced in various parts of the world. The most telling was the Latin American scene, where, to combat the so-called peace of the neo-colonial system, the people learned to hate. In his feature-length explosive documentary, "The Hour of the Furnaces', Fernando Solanas of Argentina said it unabashedly. "We fear peace more than war". "That was a decade of violent protest. As a contrast, the European scene was short-lived and largely romantic. One that got wide publicity was at Frankfurt and then, on a comparatively bigger scale, at Sorbonne. But, one that immediately got worldwide attention was the scene in West Bengal. Protests and violence went on. Police atrocities went unabated in mad fury. The big city (Kolkata), and most particularly, a large section of the Bengali youth, were caught in the maelstrom. The most advanced and, naturally, the most dedicated among them were the university and college students. Kunal (Mrinal Sen's son), still in school, brought a secret pamphlet one day and kept it in hiding. In his absence, I pulled it out, read it and gently put it where it was. I felt a little disturbed. Being more practical, Gita (Sen's wife) asked me not to create a scene. Amidst the Naxalite maelstrom, yet another spark, another slogan rent the air. New posters flooding the city. Outside the border, suburbs, and further interior, the countryside. The new slogan - sattor'r dashak mukti'r dashak! "(The decade of the '70s is the decade of liberation!)".
To this, I would like to add the
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