These advocacy films are dangerous because anyone who gets into power is inevitably corrupted and inevitably disappoints. When you make a film about an inspiring political outsider and he wins…well, then you have a problem. It’s good to watch these movies after they come out, even if I meant to watch it when it came out seven years ago.
This film reminds me of The Island President or I Am Not Alone. It’s a little more nuanced than my memories of either of those films, because Kejriwal sometimes comes across as imperious or incautious. But it’s still one of those films that is unlikely to age well, given how much faith it puts in Kejriwal.
Now, watching the film, that faith doesn’t feel particularly misplaced most of the time. Kejriwal comes across, mostly, as a sincere and absolutely committed to his political project. Personally, I resonate more with Yadav who really seems inspiring and less ambitious, which is a virtue for me if not for a politician.
I don’t know what it is about these movies, but I often find these people, like Kejriwal and Yadav, like Nasheed (as portrayed in his film), like Pashinyan (as portrayed in his film), so much more inspiring than my own politicians. Now, some of that is deliberate manipulation by films such as these. But some of it is more fundamental, I think. All of these people are living under obviously corrupt and/or authoritarian regimes and, at least when outside, have legitimate plans to improve the lives of their fellow people. At home, we have nothing so obviously awful, just petty corruption and lazy defense of the status quo. Not only am I less worried about the Conservatives than I would be about the regimes in any of these other countries, I also don’t have anyone inspiring to root for, in part because the transformations required in Canada to make it a better place are just a lot less drastic than those in these countries. (So it appears to me, anyway. I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way to an indigenous person.)
I mention this because I find myself thoroughly enjoying this movie, and being moved by it, despite knowing that Kejriwal will inevitably disappoint. To the film’s credit, it briefly acknowledges this before the credits, as at least one authoritarian-esque incident that occurred post-victory is mentioned. Still, it’s hard not to watch these people and not feel inspired and hopeful. At least for an hour or so, my cynicism about political processes can be tamped down by hope and belief.