November 13, 2003 – Film Screening: The Men in the Tree

Documentary Film, 2002 / 98 min.

Thursday, November 13 / 5:30 PM / Cowell Conference Room

Moderator: Radhika Mongia (Women’s Studies, UC Santa Cruz)

Vachani’s 1993 film, The Boy in the Branch, explored the indoctrination of four young Hindu boys in a branch of the RSS, one of the foremost Hindu fundamentalist organizations in India. On December 6, 1992 (as the film was nearing completion) members of the RSS and its affiliates destroyed the Babri mosque at Ayodhya. Where were the four boys when the mosque was razed to the ground? What did they think about the deaths of at least 1500 people (mostly Muslim) in the riots that followed the demolition? What happened to them between 1992 and 2000, as the RSS and Hindu nationalism had moved from the margins to the center of Indian politics? Vachani’s new film, The Men in the Tree, returns to the subjects of his previous film, eight years later, to document the setbacks and chilling triumphs of Hindu nationalism. The film raises crucial questions about Hindu fundamentalism, “long-distance nationalism,” and international funding sources (e.g., Silicon Valley) for the Hindu Right, and the complex intersections of religion, culture, and ideology.

Sponsored by the Religion and Culture Research Cluster