Father, Son and Holy War

1995, Colour, 120 mins

Supreme Court orders telecast !

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In the politically polarized world, universal ideals are rare. In India, as in many regions, the vacuum is filled by religious zealousness. Minorities are scapegoats of every calamity as nations subdivide into religious and ethnic zones, each seemingly eager to annihilate the other or extinguish itself on the altar of martyrdom.

FATHER, SON AND HOLY WAR explores in two parts the possibility that the psychology of violence against "the other" may lie in male insecurity, itself an inevitable product of the very construction of "manhood."


TRIAL BY FIRE, a reference to the ordeal Hindu god-king Lord Rama tested his wife Sita's fidelity with, looks at the communal fires which have consumed India in recent years. "Sati," a rite by which Roop Kanwar was thrown on her husband's funeral pyre; the upper castes' "purifying" fire rituals and the communal fires that ravaged Bombay after the demolition of the mosque in Ayodhya are set against a small group of fire fighters: a Rajasthani woman who, against the odds, condemns Sati; a Muslim woman who battles gender discriminatory laws; and a band of Hindus and Muslims who march for communal harmony in the riot-torn streets of Bombay.


HERO PHARMACY examines "manhood" in the context of religious strife. The Hindu majority has been raised on stories of marauding Muslim invaders who raped their women, destroyed their temples, and forced religious conversions. Today, some Hindus demand revenge for crimes committed centuries ago. They reject non-violence as impotence and set out to be "real men."

In this context, the Muslim minority - despite fears of genocide - will not take things lying down. They too are driven by the imperative to be "real men." The result is carnage.

Is violence inherent in the human condition? Historically, people have co-existed for over 50,000 years in relative harmony. Wars began less than 5,000 years ago. But today the "macho" man rules in every land. Where do we go from here?

* National Award, Best Investigative Documentary,India,1995
* National Award, Best Social Documentary, India, 1995
* Special Jury Prize, Yamagata International Film Festival, Japan,1995
* Grand Prize, Jerusalem International Film Festival, Isreal,1995
* Special Jury Prize, Vancouver International Film Festival, 1995
* International Jury Prize, Bombay International Film Festival, 1996

"Rampant machismo is never a pretty sight, and this two-part video contains a lot of excruciating imagery and some brutal truths: these are not pretty pictures... For showing to courses on current Indian politics, on religion and ethnicity, on women's issues, the sociology of violence, or popular culture, FATHER, SON AND HOLY WAR is powerful stuff, but the faint of heart should be forewarned of its harrowing content."
Gail Minault, Journal of Asian Studies

"Anand Patwardhan's impressive, passionate documentary explores in great detail the roots of sectarian violence in India today. A natural for cutting-edge TV docu slots, the film, which is extremely well researched and assembled, should also be widely seen at upcoming fests."
David Stratton, Variety

“In his understanding of the sexual politics of resurgent Hindu communalism, Patwardhan remains India’s most astute and daring documentary filmmaker and one of the country’s most sensitive commentators."
Vinay Lal, Manas

"Father, Son and Holy War”, through a careful layering of images, views and counter-views takes you far beyond the generally superficial vision of Indian politics that the standard television documentary delivers."
Pervaiz Khan, London Film Festival

"Within the patriarchal determinisms of contemporary cultural practice in India, it is rare to encounter a film like Anand Patwardhan’s Father Son and Holy War that compels one to confront the dubious privilege of being a ‘man’ in Indian society."
Rustom Barucha, Economic and Political Weekly

"After attempting to block the screening of Anand Patwardhan's red-hot 1994 documentary Faster, Son and Holy War for over a decade, Doordarshan has had to cave in and slot the film's Hindi version on Sunday, October 8. The two-hour documentary is divided into two segments and looks at the connections between anxiety over masculinity and the rise of religious violence."
Nandini Ramnath, Time Out

"Father, Son and Holy War" amongst
50 all-time favourites in world cinema
"DOX 50 contains essays on 51 of the kind of films that have made an indelible impression on the 51 authors of this publication, and which for some even became a determining factor in how they spent their lives. The authors are filmmakers, critics, festival directors, commissioning editors and film connoisseurs, all of whom are spending their lives making, watching and working for the advancement of the documentary. They were all asked to write about their favourite documentary of all time."

Camera, Editing
- Anand Patwardhan
Sound - Simantini Dhuru, Narinder Singh, Sanjiv Shah
Music - Navnirman, Vinay Mahajan
Production Assistance - Simantini Dhuru, Paromita Vohra




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