TIFF 2016 Review: An Insignificant Man
While the revolution will not be televised, this revolution is captured, documented and lovingly rendered in an intimate way by two talented first-time directors in Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. The twin problems of An Insignificant Man are that while the revolution was captured, and that Arvind Kejriwal, the “Bernie Sanders of India” helped make inroads in his first election for the Common Man Party, his name is not familiar to many Westerners, and the more significant moral dilemma which is that to become a true revolutionary, he inserted himself in the conversation, possibly turning Kejriwal into the very embodiment of what is he is fighting against, which is politics as usual.
The title of the film then becomes more ironic, as what happens to the common man when he runs for head of state, and attempts to defeat the status quo in Delhi? Well, the film posits a number of situations, especially including dissension in the ranks of the upper echelon of his party, the difficulty of introducing bills that are doomed to fail even though they are supported by a large mandate, and perhaps most difficult of all, being a hero to a nation as a common man, and then aiming to will yourself away from power when it is finally bestowed.
Co-directors Ranka and Shula seem content to shy away from an active role as they are granted significant access on the campaign trail in 2013. They capture the action as it unfolds and were able to do so through a massive independent crowdfunding effort. Unspoken in this documentary, but loudly echoing, is that the American political spectrum lacks a Arvind Kejriwal, who is a truly insignificant man.