Anand Patwardhan, India’s foremost documentary filmmaker, will be visiting the University of Michigan as a Hughes Fellow for the fall semester of 2022. 

Patwardhan is known for his socio-political, award-winning films. He has spent decades capturing Mumbai’s slum dwellers, the reality of the caste system, the rise of Hindu nationalism, and tensions between India and Pakistan. Though his films have won many international and publicly funded awards, he has had to fight the Indian government’s censorship and restrictions with almost every one of his films. 

While in Ann Arbor from September through December, Patwardhan will be a featured speaker for the Center for South Asian Studies' Scholarly Lecture Series. He will lead screenings of his films, including both introductions and question-and-answer sessions, and he will visit classes in the departments of Film, Television, and Media, and Asian Languages and Cultures.

“Anand Patwardhan represents an important voice for human rights in India, and around the world, and it is an honor for us to be able to host such an acclaimed filmmaker,” says Matthew Hull, Director for the Center for South Asian Studies.

The purpose of the Hughes Fellowship program is to promote understanding of South Asia by bringing scholars and artists to U-M campus for extended visits that enable deeper engagements.

The CSAS series will include screenings of ten of Patwardhan’s documentaries and music videos. Included will be his latest work, Reason (Vivek), a documentary on the relationship between faith and rationality. This film has won Best Feature-length Documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam and the Audience Award at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. 

In the Indian Express’ review of Vivek/Reason, writer Shubhra Gupta states,”Vivek stands tall for what it manages to piece together: a portrayal of India today, and how it is a country on the edge of an abyss.” 

In addition to Vivek/Reason, other Patwardhan films in the series are In the Name of God (1991), Father, Son, and Holy War (1995), A Narmada Diary (1995), In Memory of Friends (1990), War and Peace (2002), Jai Bhim Comrade (2012), and Bombay: Our City (1985). Combined, these documentary films have won more than 20 awards from all around the world. 

In a December 2020 New York Time’s Magazine feature on Patwardhan, the author says, “Frustrated by the certification process, many Indian documentary filmmakers give up on their dreams of a sizable audience. Patwardhan has persevered, I suspect, for the same reason that he sells DVDs of his films for less than the price of a paperback: a belief in the political efficacy of documentary making.”  

Patwardhan was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in English literature at Elphinstone College in Mumbai, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Brandeis University, and a Master of Arts in Communication Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He also is a member of the Oscar Academy.

The schedule for CSAS’s upcoming film series featuring Anand Patwardhan and his work is: 

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022, 12:00pm: Reason (2018, color, 218 mins)
  • Wednesday, October 12, 2022, 7:30pm-10:00pm: We Are Not Your Monkeys (1993, color, music video, 5 mins), Sanctum Santorum (2013, color, music video, 5 mins), In the Name Of God (1991, color, 75 minutes)
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 7:30pm-10:00pm: Ribbons for Peace (1998, color, music video, 5 mins), Father, Son and Holy War (1995, color, 120 mins)
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022, 7:30pm-10:00pm: A Narmada Diary (1995, color, 60 mins), In Memory of Friends (1990, color, 60 mins)
  • Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 7:30pm-10:00pm: War and Peace (2002, color, 130 mins)
  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 7:30pm-10:30pm: Jai Bhim Comrade (2012, color, 169 mins)
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2022, 7:30pm-10:00pm: Bombay: Our City (1985, color, 75 mins)

These screenings are open to the public. For more details on the upcoming series, see our calendar of events, and for more information on Patwardhan and his work, please visit his website.