Insides and Outsides (2023): A personal account of a political viewpoint.
In this analysis, Dipankar Sarkar provides insight into the documentary Insides and Outsides directed by Arbab
The question of what it's like to be a Muslim in contemporary India becomes crucial in understanding the dynamics of the social fabric and the challenges faced by the community. Arbab Ahmad's documentary Insides and Outsides provides a unique perspective on this issue and provides a thought-provoking exploration of the impact of societal changes on individuals and families. Through Arbab's lens, viewers gain insight into the struggles faced by Muslims in India by highlighting the complexities of identity and belonging in a rapidly changing world. The documentary skilfully captures the resilience and determination of individuals as they navigate the shifting dynamics of their country, offering a powerful commentary on the enduring human spirit.
Created using material that was captured over a period of several years and shaped into an hour, the documentary follows a timeline from the end of 2019, when the CAA/NRC protests were at their height, to 2022, when the pandemic had upended everyone's personal lives. It looks into what it's like for Muslims to live in India in the face of a hostile and violent environment. The narrative shifts its attention back and forth between the exterior, where an unending torrent of hatred erupts, and the interior, where Arbab's parents continually re-evaluate their place in the country.
Image: Film still
The viewing experience of the documentary generates a feeling of participating in a chain of thoughts emerging from the stream of consciousness of the filmmaker as he explores the multifaceted experiences of Muslims in India, delving into the complexities of identity, belonging, and marginalisation. Through personal narratives and extensive research, he sheds light on the challenges faced by the Muslim community while also highlighting their resilience and contributions to Indian society.
Image: Film still
As he directs the camera both at himself and at his family, which consists of his mother and father, SMK Rahman and Rubina Ahmad, he successfully transports the viewer into his mental landscape, which was We are able to understand how he feels as we watch images of horrifying violence in news broadcasts and social media feeds and listen to the never-ending torrent of hate speech. The filmmaker skilfully juxtaposes these disturbing visuals with intimate moments of love and tenderness within his family, creating a powerful contrast that highlights the impact of external influences on his mental state. Through this narrative approach, he compels us to reflect on the profound effects of media saturation and societal toxicity on our own emotions and well-being. At the same time, we also observe his parents' daily routines and can't help but notice the stark contrast between their peaceful existence and the hateful rhetoric perpetuated by mainstream media. This stark juxtaposition highlights the emotional toll that leaving one's city or home can have on individuals and families, as they are forced to confront both their own sense of belonging and the hostile environment they are often subjected to.
At the 15th edition of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, Abrar won the award for Best Editing.