Directed by Anand Patwardhan • Documentary • 2002 • 135 minutes
Filmed over four tumultuous years in India, Pakistan, Japan and the USA following nuclear tests in the Indian sub-continent, War and Peace is a documentary journey of peace activism in the face of global militarism and war. The film is framed by the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, an act whose portent and poignancy remains undiminished half a century later. For the filmmaker, whose family was immersed in the non-violent Gandhian movement, the sub-continent’s trajectory towards unabashed militarism is explored with sorrow though the film captures stories of resistance along the way. Amongst these is a visit to the “enemy country” of Pakistan, where contrary to expectations, Indian delegates are showered by affection not only by their counterparts in the peace movement but by uninitiated common folk.
The film moves on to examine the costs being extracted from citizens in the name of national security. From the plight of residents living near the nuclear test site to the horrendous effects of uranium mining on local indigenous populations, it becomes abundantly clear that contrary to a myth first created by the U.S.A, there is no such thing as the “peaceful Atom”.
WAR & PEACE / JANG AUR AMAN slips seamlessly from a description of home made jingoism to focus on how an aggressive United States has become a role model, its doctrine of “Might is Right” only too well-absorbed by aspiring elites of the developing world.
As we enter the 21st century, war has become perennial, enemies are re-invented and economies inextricably tied to the production and sale of weapons. In the moral wastelands of the world memories of Gandhi seem like a mirage that never was, created by our thirst for peace and our very distance from it.