Kamal Swaroop's Banaras diaries

The filmmaker’s next project tracks election fever in the holy city

Filmmaker Kamal Swaroop is gearing up for his next project, a documentary titled Battle of Banaras. Focusing on the struggle for power in the holy heartland of Banaras, Swaroop has been travelling extensively in the city in a bid to meet and interview people for this documentary. Swaroop says, “I chose Banaras because it is definitely a battleground for power. Then again, I don’t see Kejriwal as a threat; to me, it’s a fight between the Congress and the BJP.”

Filmmaker Kamal Swaroop

Interestingly, most candidates contesting elections in Banaras this year are outsiders. Narendra Modi is from Gujarat; Arvind Kejriwal from New Delhi, while Ajay Rai of the Congress is currently an MLA from Pindra, which is outside Banaras. Similarly, Samajwadi Party’s Kailash Chaurasiya is from Mirzapur.

A graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Kamal Swaroop has assisted Richard Attenborough on his film, Gandhi, and is currently working on the television series, The Life and Times of Dadasaheb Phalke. His first feature film, Om Dar-B-Dar, was made in 1988 and it took 26 years to finally release in India.

Swaroop now plans to release the documentary in cinema halls as well. He says, “I am going to meet a senior journalist who will share with me the history of elections held in Banaras right from the year 1947 onwards.”

The filmmaker also observes that while he finds Modi’s supporters to be more organised, ‘Kejriwal’s men are not’.

Swaroop adds that he plans to premiere the film at the Cannes Film festival.

Manu Kumaran, the producer of the documentary, says, “People are keenly following the elections in Banaras and we will get to see this wave of interest through Kamal Swaroop’s film. The documentary will be a compelling proposition for global audiences,” he says.

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