Reimagining Citizenship Online Short Documentary Festival

When: Aug 13 | 06:00 PM India; Aug 14 | 3pm and 06:00 PM India; and Aug 15 | 06:00 PM India


Post film festival update:

Here is the entire rundown of the 3 day festival including all films screened and live discussions


Register in advance for all 3 days: 

Join us, on the 13, 14 and 15 August 2021 to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day, with “Reimagining Citizenship”, a film festival organised in collaboration with the Centre for Equity Studies to commemorate this historic movement, and the minds and art behind it. We will talk about what being an Indian means today, and what it takes to defend that belongingness. We will see films that document the protests and state repression, and ask fundamental questions about the future of this country. We will also speak to key voices of the resistance, witnesses and survivors of the repression, and artists who gave the movement its soul.

Spread over three days and six sessions, the films will highlight how ordinary Indians live and wage resistance and the consequences of such resistance. The crisis of citizenship in Assam and question of belongingness in India engendered by new citizenship legislation shall be illustrated through a set of remarkable documentaries. The films will show forms of resistance through art, painting and poetry which have provided a language to the dreams and aspirations of the protesting masses. Finally, we will discover that resistance to all exclusionary politics resides in ways of belonging and solidarity which are hallmarks of daily living of ordinary people. See the trailer of the event here.

For each session we have a set of panelists including artists, filmmakers, poets, activists and scholars, who have contributed to movements and debates around citizenship, to discuss the films and their own work as we attempt a collective reimagining of the idea of citizenship by highlighting different layers of belonging.

DAY 1 | 13th August 2021

I. Lived ways of resistance: How ordinary Indians live a resistance 6pm to 7:30 pm

Opening: Natasha Badhwar

Lemonade Has No Religion

Shikanji ka koi dharm nahi hota, Sir, says Chandan with a shy smile. Meet Chandan, a young man who makes lemonade for community Iftar in Delhi’s New Friends Colony every #Ramzan Meet Lalaji Devendra Arora who waits for Ramzan when his neighbours send Iftar everyday. The shops at Community Centre in New Friends Colony is a symbol of our country syncretic culture and it proves that no matter what, we stand united with love.

Ramleela of Amanullah Khan

“I feel blessed to be born in the town of Kunra in Chhatisgarh,” says #Amanullah Khan, a garment shop owner who is also plays the very popular role of the #Ravan in the annual Ramleela.

Conversation: Meena Kandasamy with Varna Balakrishnan

India Reads, India Resists

Fatima Sheikh – Savitribai Phule Library, just 50 meters from the main protest site of Shaheen Bagh. A bus stand converted into a library gave the protest another meaning. People from all walks of life would come and spend time at the library, reading and registering their protest in a revolutionary manner.

India will Stand United Against Hate

Amidst the ruins of Delhi Riots 2020, we must also honour the stories of solidarity between communities who refuse to fall prey to the politics of hate. The smalltown of Malerkotla, farmers join the protests and extend solidarity

International Womens Day – A Celebration of Unity

It was a sea of yellow as thousands of women from different parts of Punjab and Haryana joined the protesting farmers at the Bahadurgarh Chowk, Tikri border. For centuries women have been told that their place is within the four walls of the house. On the occassion of #InternationalWomensDay, women activists, farmers and citizens, all stood united against the government and their divisive new farm laws.

II. Cost of Resistance – what people suffered as a consequence of protesting 7:30 to 9pm

Introduction: Varna Balakrishnan

#DelhiPogrom2020: Human Cost #Tathya with Farah Naqvi, Suroor Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj

Three activists share their stories of what they experienced when they visited areas affected by the Delhi violence.

Conversation: Suroor Mander and Sasikanth Senthil with Varna Balakrishnan

I Had Not Imagined A Morning Like This

Sadia Khan brings the reality of the troubling times of unrest and police brutality to life in a beautiful poem.

How Delhi Police Reacted To Pro and Anti-CAA Protestors

A video that highlights the difference in treatment of anti CAA peaceful protestors and those protesting in favour of CAA by Delhi police

“Those dark nights still haunt me”

Dr. M A Anwar of Al Hind Hospital, Mustafabad as he recounts the horror of the pogrom in NE Delhi in February, 2020. The 25-bed hospital became the first place of refuge for those grievously injured in the violence left nearly 60 dead and hundreds injured within a week.

Conversation: Natasha Narwal with Anirban Bhattacharya

Journey of Nilofer Sheikh and the anti-CAA movement

The approx twenty min long film is an essay into the life of a young, Muslim woman, a teacher and mother of two who participated for the first time in a civil society protest. It seeks to see the protest from the point of view of a regular Muslim woman – the regular Muslim woman who led the protests from the front to the utter amazement of the world. It also traces the history, events and moments of the movement contextualising the whole around her specific story.

DAY 2 | 14th August 2021

I. Citizenship Crisis in Assam 3pm to 5pm

Introduction: Indrajit Roy

I AM MIYA – Reclaiming Identity through Protest poetry

‘Miya’ poetry is a reclaiming of one’s Muslim identity by the Bengal-origin Muslims of Assam. It is protest poetry that rebels against oppression and subjugation. Poets and activists from the Muslim community in Assam have found a way to take the derogatory term “Miya” and subvert it. Miya poetry seeks answers to questions of belonging and citizenship. It echoes the fears of a community threatened by exclusion from the NRC

Conversation: Abdul Kalam Azad and Yasmin Saikia with Suraj Gogoi

Eroding Citizenship in Assam

This is the story of the people of the Char islands, 10% of the population of Assam. This film looks them in the eye, listens to their voice, their song and their despair.

The Diary Of Hamidul Islam

Meet Hamidul Islam, a 13-year-old school boy from #Assam. A first generation student from the Char islands, Hamidul’s parents can barely afford his school uniforms, leave alone have a smartphone for him to access online classes. The mid-day meals he used to get in school had become a way to make sure there remains enough food for everyone else at home. As he prepares for the impending floods that may wash away his home, Hamidul is very busy these days. Listen to him as he shares his story.

We Are Adivasis, Not Tea-Garden Tribes – Inside Assam’s Tea-Gardens

“We, Orang, Munda, Santhal and Kharias are Adivasis. We demand our rights.” Listen to the powerful voice of Mansukh Sankharika, public secretary of All Adivasi Student’s Association of Assam (AASAA) as he walks us through the lives and history of the Adivasis residing in Assam’s tea-gardens. Officially referred to as ‘tea-garden’ tribes till date, Assam’s tea-garden workers are asking for ST status. While ministers and elected officials refuse to listen to the demands of the Adivasis.

Who killed Zabeda’s Baby?

What does it mean to lose your home? Your income, savings, family, identity, citizenship? What does it mean to lose your own child…all because of the state’s arbitrary rules and callous human errors? The exclusion of over 41 lakh people in Assam from the National Register of Citizens has led to widespread distress and anxiety amongst the most vulnerable communities in Assam.

Conversation: Rehana Sultana and Ashraful Hussain with Smitana Saikia

This Eid, A song For My Father

Meet 16-year-old Saddam Khan from Kharballi Char in Barpeta district of Assam. On the occassion of Eid, he dedicated this song to his father who is stuck in Delhi due to the lockdown. This is a spiritual song known as Murshidi, in Miya dialect, spoken by Bengal origin Muslims.

II. The Crisis of Citizenship and Democracy In India: who belongs, who does not belong? 6pm to 8 pm

Introduction: Banojyotsna Lahiri

Flight of Freedom – Azaadi ki Udaan

The kite makers in Lal Kuan in Old Delhi give us a glimpse into the history of the largest kite market in our country. They also remember a time when being a citizen of India meant being free. In the current times, however, there is more fear and anxiety which prevails.

Mazhab – Poojan Sahil

Singing of Poojan Sahil that evokes the feelings of hopelessness and despair we see all around, yet gives us hope. Set to the visuals of violence and arson that was witnessed during the Delhi riots of February 2020.

We will Save the constitution
Where #VarunGrover compares #NarendraModi to an authoritarian father and shares that poetry is the weapon of the vulnerable. “Poetry is a cry for help,” he says. Poetry empowers the self to say, “I have not lost yet…” At Azad Maidan during anti CAA protests and in conversation with Karwan e Mohabbat

Conversation: Harsh Mander with Banojyotsna Lahiri

Why Do We Need Karwan e Mohabbat
Harsh Mander, Natasha Badhwar and Navsharan Singh give us a glimpse into the idea behind Karwan e Mohabbat and why we need it in todays time. Surrounded by hate, the people of country need to be made aware of the power of love, compassion and empathy.

Story of Fahad Ahmad
The film takes a deep dive into the experiences of a young Muslim student activist who was a part of the movement from its inception. It also traces the history, events and moments of the movement that made it a historic movement.

Who Killed Amrit Das?
Amrit Das was a healthy man when he was picked up arbitrarily and locked up in a Detention Centre in Assam. His sons visited him there and he still seemed healthy, yet he died days later. The family have no post-mortem report and no hope for justice. Why are some Indians in Assam being branded Doubtful-Voters when their names have been on the electoral list throughout their life? Why has the state turned against its own citizens?

DAY 3 | 15th August 2021

I. Resistance Through Art 6pm to 7:30 pm

Introduction: Amitanshu Verma

The Revolution Will Be Painted
Meet the band of young artists who started painting on the walls of Jamia Millia University to express their feelings and angst in response to the brutal police crackdown in the university on 15 December, 2019.

Main Inkaar Karta Hoon
Aamir Aziz echoes the feeling of resistance and protest that surrounded us during the months of CAA protests. Makes us look back at our fight for independence and remember the ‘idea of India’ which was based on the Constitution that promised each citizen equal rights and justice.

The Unsubtle Art Of Dissent
Varun Grover answers questions you’ve always wanted to ask. How much money does the opposition pay to stand-up comics? When does it become okay to speak nonsense?

Conversation: Varun Grover, Aamir Aziz and Sabika Abbas Naqvi with Amitanshu Verma

Shaheen Bagh – A protest that inspired a nation
The Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest led by Muslim women reaffirmed that the people of India understand their Constitutional rights and can will fight not only for themselves but for others too. Shaheen Bagh has shown us a people’s democracy in action.

Shaheen Bagh will live forever.

Bella Ciao – Punjabi version for #FarmersProtest | Wapas Jao by Poojan Sahil
Listen to the melodious voice of Poojan Sahil as he pays tribute to the farmers of Punjab protesting on Delhi’s Tikri border, against the 3 new farm bills. After facing water cannons and lathis of the police, the farmers continue their protest to become symbols of resilience and bravery.

Main Har Shahar Ka Shaheen Bagh Hoon by Farah Naqvi
A poem recited by Farah Naqvi as she pays a tribute to all the brave women protestors

I. Ways of Belonging – Solidarity as resistance 7:30 pm to 9pm

Introduction: Natasha Badhwar

India – A Love Story
The story of Sharda Baruah’s life and love is also the story of the best version of India. An India we have been, one we are capable of being again. In 1958, she married U L Baruah, but this love between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man transcended way beyond religious identities.

Right To An Equal Love – Marriage in the transgender community
In a joyful, glorious celebration of love and marriage in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, 15 transgender persons married the men they love. The ceremonies were inspired by a mix of Hindu tradition and #Bollywood. For once, those who have been relegated to the margins of mainstream family life and celebrations, created a space for themselves and for their own loves.

Georgina Lazar and her Urdu Bible
Story of Tai-ji of Turkman Gate or Georgina Lazar who reads her bible in Urdu.

Story of Fahad Ahmad
The film takes a deep dive into the experiences of a young Muslim student activist who was a part of the movement from its inception. It also traces the history, events and moments of the movement that made it a historic movement

Conversation: Navsharan Singh and Apoorvanand with Harsh Mander

The United Colours of Basant
Do the colours of nature have a religion? Can we allow the joy of seasons to be tainted by bigotry? “My mother used to make two pigtails for me and decorate them with yellow ribbons, as if to admire her child as installation art…” On #BasantPanchmi , #MadanGopalSingh sings about the universal joy of immersing oneself in the beauty of the Universe.