Documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak talks about his new film, Red Ant Dream, and the architecture of revolutionary desire


Red Ant DreamTrailer Published on May 1, 2013
A documentary about those who live the revolutionary ideal in India
Director: Sanjay Kak
Synopsis:  ‘Let us declare that the state of war does exist and shall exist’, the revolutionary patriot had said almost a hundred years ago, and that forewarning travels into India’s present, as armed insurrection simmers in Bastar, in the troubled heart of central India. But to the east too, beleaguered adivasis from the mineral-rich hills of Odisha come forth bearing their axes, and their songs. And in the north the swelling protests by Punjabi peasants sees hope coagulate–once more–around that iconic figure of Bhagat Singh, revolutionary martyr of the anti-colonial struggle. But are revolutions even possible anymore? Or have those dreams been ground down into our nightmares? This is a chronicle of those who live the revolutionary ideal in India, a rare encounter with the invisible domain of those whose everyday is a fight for another ideal of the world.
Gondi, Odiya, Punjabi with English Subtitles


Talking about a revolution…

Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singhby BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA, The Hindu,


  • [Sanjay Kak. Photo: Apal Singh]
  • The third in a cycle of films that interrogate the workings of Indian democracy, Red Ant Dream by Sanjay Kak looks at the revolutionary ideal as it exists in India today. Moving between Punjab, Bastar and Niyamgiri, the film documents the songs, histories and struggles of people who try to imagine a different world into being. The director responded to questions in an e-mail interview:


Can you talk about the beginnings of Red Ant Dream? When and why did you get interested in making this film?


A still from the film.

[Photo:  A Still From the Film]

It’s always difficult to say where the beginnings of a film lie, because in a sense what you put into a documentary could be the summation of many years of thinking about an idea, your whole life even! For more than a decade all my films have been about resistance – Words on Water was about the movement against big dams in the Narmada valley, Jashn-e-Azadi about Kashmir, and now with this new film we look at the stirrings in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha, and briefly Punjab. More specifically, I think Red Ant Dream was a reaction to the way in which the rebellion led by the Maoists in central India was being depicted in the media and in public discourse – as an isolated, autonomous outbreak of something like a pestilence, something alien called Maoism. Continue reading

India: Punjab – a report on Jan Myrdal’s talk in Ludhiana

February 12, 2012

“The Political organization has the Central Role in Raising the Consciousness of People”

by Buta Singh, Sanhati

In America, and especially in Europe, the class consciousness of people has taken a downturn and this is the cause for domination of bourgeois ideology and in organizing public opinion for unjust imperialist wars. That is why there is no strong opposition to these wars and aggressions among the people of imperialist countries.”

This was stated by Jan Myrdal, a famous Marxist thinker and literary figure, in a heavily attended program in Punjabi Bhavan in Ludhiana which was held under the chairmanship of Prof. AK Maleri, Prof. Jagmohan Singh, Satnam, Prof. Ajmer Aulakh and Gautam Navlakha. He was introduced by Prof. Jagmohan Singh to the audience as an anti-imperialist activist and literary authority known throughout the world. In his key-note address Myrdal said that the imperialist wars have assumed an important role in the world due to weakened working class movement. He stressed that the people do not gain political consciousness spontaneously rather it is imparted by the political organization of the working class. He said that the Nazis had achieved success in elections by corrupting the consciousness of their people promising them gains in the loot of Europe. The genocides being carried out by the imperialist USA is not a new thing and one should remember that it is built on the mass scale extermination of the Red Indians. It attacks other countries to control them but is careful to not destroy their oil resources and installations and instead destroys their cultural heritages, history and civilizations. Quoting Mao Zedong he said that though the US imperialism is a paper tiger but it has a great capability of inflicting heavy casualties and destruction to maintain its imperialist grip on the people of the world. In spite of great changes in the world system the plunder of wage labour still holds the key to imperialist exploitation though the mental labour has assumed huge proportions. The developing of the war machine has always been an important aspect of imperialism. The struggles like “occupy Wall Street” are important but the they lack the required political perspective and direction as the political organization which can lead the people to victory is not present. He said that the imperialists have succeeded in splitting up the people of Syria, Iraq and other Arab countries on religious and sectarian lines thus sidetracking the struggles of the people and pitching them one against the other. While answering the questions of the audience he stressed that it is duty of the movements in various countries to enact change in the system in accordance with the objective situation prevailing in respective countries and no single center can lead the movements in various countries. While briefing on his meetings with Mao Zedong he said that he was a genius who could creatively apply Marxist theory according to the social conditions and history of China. Gautam Navlakha translated his speech and his answers to the questions raised by the listeners. Continue reading

Occupy Oakland 12/12 Port Shutdown raises question: How to unite with and support truckers’ struggle?

“Oakland Port Protests Highlight Truckers’ Plight”
by Sunita Sohrabhji
India-West, Dec 16, 2011
Thousands of “Occupy” protestors took to the streets Dec. 12 near the Oakland, Calif., ports to highlight the brutish working conditions of the nation’s truck drivers, who work as many as 70 hours a week for low pay and no benefits.
Similar protests were held the same day and the following morning at ports throughout the West Coast, including Long Beach and San Diego in California; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle and Tacoma in Washington. The movement is called “Occupy Wall Street on the Waterfront.”
Indian Americans — predominantly Punjab natives — make up approximately one-third of truck owners and drivers in California. There are more than 32,000 Indian American truck drivers nationwide, according to various reports.
The West Coast port protests were primarily directed at large corporations such as Goldman Sachs who own trucking companies, but also indirectly targeted Indian American trucking company owners.
Valerie Lapin, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, told India-West, “Truck drivers are definitely part of the 99 percent. They are such a clear example of those who are being exploited.”
Trucking companies are skirting their responsibilities by misidentifying truck drivers as independent owner operators, asserted Lapin, adding that this allows companies to get away with not offering health benefits to their employees, along with varied rates of pay, which can sometimes be as little as $30 per day.
Trucking company owners also pay no social security taxes for their workers, who are not protected by health and safety laws though they work in dangerous jobs. Continue reading

India: Punjab’s Dal Khalsa (independence movement) flays the muzzling of ‘voices of dissent’ by branding them ‘seditious’

Delhi Conference on Kashmir: "Azadi, The Only Way"

AMRITSAR, Dec 1- Dal Khalsa expressed its deep concern at the registration of a ‘sedition’ case against veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Arundhati Roy, Prof SAR Geelani, Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, Sujato Bhadra, Varavara Rao and Shuddhabrata Sengupta by the Delhi Police on the direction of Metropolitan Magistrate Navita Kumari Bagha.

Pertinently, the police have slapped Sections 124-A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between two communities) and 153-B (assertion against national integration) against 7 persons for speaking in favour of Kashmir’s independence at a convention held on 21 October titled “Azadi: The Only Way”.

Party head H S Dhami and secretary for political affairs Kanwarpal Singh said they were distressed that surreptitious back-door attempts were consistently being made by the Indian establishment to muzzle voices of dissent by simply branding them as ‘seditious’. “The role of the BJP and its offshoots in upping the ante in this case is highly condemnable”.

To extend solidarity with Kashmiri’s and pledge to stand with them in their just struggle, “we too participated and spoke at Delhi convention”, they said.

Dal Khalsa, which is struggling for Punjab’s independence, strongly believes that freedom of speech and expression was an inalienable fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens including those who seek right to self-determination, said they. Continue reading

Militant labor struggles on rise in Ludhiana, Punjab industrial area

Ludhiana powerloom workers protest

Sanhati, September 27, 2010

Saroj Giri

The struggle of Ludhiana power loom workers enters 9th day

The struggle of hundreds of power loom workers of 52 factories of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas which started on September 16, remained inconclusive as of today. A round of discussions held yesterday (September 23) with factory owners in presence of labour officials bore no results. Rajwinder, President of Karkhana Mazdoor Union which is leading the workers in the strike said that there were sharp divisions among the factory owners and they could reach no consensus among themselves.

The factory owners are scared of the organised struggle of the workers and they know that a successful strike this time will boost the confidence of the workers in their organisation which will prove very harmful for them in the long run. On the other hand the spirit of the workers is high and they are determined to lead the struggle to a successful conclusion. The striking workers have been demonstrating in front of the Vardhman Mill (Chandigarh Road) and their strike has now entered into the 9th day.

The strike that started on September 16 in 22 factories of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas of Ludhiana has now spread to 52 power loom units in these areas. The workers have revolted against their pathetic conditions, nearly no existence of labour laws and basic rights, long working hours and low wages and callous approach of the government and administration. The successful strike (August 24 – August 31) of Shakti Nagar, Tibba Road workers has inspired the workers of other areas. Continue reading

Punjab: A trail of blood follows peasant struggles

Delhi demonstration againstt police attack on Punjab farmers

Sanhati, October 15, 2010

by Narinder Kumar Jeet

It was in Bhindi Aulakh, a small village in Amritsar District, on Indo-Pakistan Border, that Sh. Sadhu Singh Takhtupura, State Organizing Secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union Ekta (Ugrahan), was brutally attacked and killed on 16.1.2010, under a deep rooted conspiracy hatched by Veer Singh Lopoke, an Ex-MLA and a powerful Akali leader and his henchmen.

Sadhu Singh Takhtupura was murdered because he was mobilizing the abadkar peasants against illegal and forcible land-grabbing by a gang of powerful Akali leaders, police officials, contractors and anti-social elements. Under his leadership, the farmers rose in revolt against custodial deaths, illegal detentions and torture by the police, through which the above said gang used to terrorize the poor peasants.

In adjoining Gurdaspur district, the goons employed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, controlled by the ruling Badal Akali Dal, had killed two tenant farmers and injured several others, when they were protesting against their illegal and forcible eviction from a Gurdwara land, which they have ben tilling for the last many years as tenants. Continue reading

Punjab: Arundhati Roy and Gandhian Himanshu Kumar speak to Anti-War Conference




On 17th October, when people were celebrating Dussehra to mark the victory of Good over the Evil, the Democratic Front Against Operation Green Hunt, Punjab, held a massive Convention in Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall, Jalandhar on “War against the people & Role of Democratic Forces.” It was addressed by noted pro-people thinker & Booker Award winner writer Arundhati Roy and Gandhian social activist Himanshu Kumar. Hundreds of people from all walks of life – University Professors, Research Scholars, Students, Artists, littérateur, cultural activists, press-persons, farmers, agricultural & industrial laborers, trade unionists, thinkers etc., participated from all across Punjab & Chandigarh. The Convention Hall having a seating capacity of 900 was overfilled & hundreds of people were left to hear the programme from outside the Convention Hall.

The Convention Hall was tastefully decorated with flex-hoardings having appropriate messages. The theme hoarding had the poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller – ‘FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE COMMUNISTS’, with a painting depicting peoples’ struggle in the background. Two others were having poems by two noted peoples’ poets of Punjab Sant Ram Udasi- MAGHDA RAHIN VE SURJA (Shine O Sun brightly) & Pash- ASIN LARANGE SATHI (Comrade! We will fight). There were quotations from Shaheed Bhagat Singh, ‘HAWA MEIN RAHENGI MERE KHIALON KI BIJLIAN’ (I may or may not live, but my ideas will remain galvanizing the air eternally)

The Convention was presided over by a presidium consisting of Dr. Parminder Singh (Professor Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar), Prof. A.K.Maleri (Ludhiana), Sh. Yash Pal (Retired Teacher and Editor VARG CHETNA), Prof. Ajmer Singh Aulakh (Noted pro-people Punjabi Dramatist), Com Gandharav Sen Kochhar & Sh. Naunihal Singh(both from Desh Bhagat Yadgar Committee, formed to honor the martyrs of Gadar Movement).

Arundhati Roy opened her speech with the remark that the Indian state has been waging a war against its own people in many parts of the country such as North East, Kashmir, Punjab and many other places for the last 60 years using military and the police to ruthlessly suppress them. She paid rich compliments to the poor people and tribals living in the forests of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra, West Bengal & Maharashtra, who were fighting valiantly to save their lands, forests, water & mineral wealth from being plundered by the world’s richest companies. Preaching non-violence to the tribals of Chhattisgarh is immoral. To those, who accuse the tribals of being violent, she asked: ‘When people are forced to die of hunger, when they are uprooted after depriving them of their lands & livelihood, in the name of development, is it not violence?’ Is it not ironic to advise those, who have empty stomachs and empty pockets, to follow the Gandhian tools of hunger strike and boycott of foreign goods? Continue reading