By Anand Patwardhan
90+ min., 2002
Anand Patwardhan’s impressive and impassioned documentary digs beneath the patriotic fervor that followed the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998, revealing the essentially political nature of nuclear proliferation and the divisions in Indian society it both cloaks and fosters. A wide-ranging look at the issue of nuclear nationalism, the film features extensive news footage and a well-rounded series of interviews with government officials, nuclear scientists, pro- and antinuclear activists, and ordinary citizens, including the poor who suffer without recourse the brunt of nuclear testing and uranium mining. (“The government is like a mother,” one old man says, shrugging. “If the mother decides to feed poison to her child, what is the child to do?”) In their promotion of nuclear weaponry, the logic of international prestige and the global arms trade suffuse the very concept of security with Orwellian irony. At the same time, the film moves beyond India’s borders to Pakistan, Japan, and the United States to understand efforts to transcend nuclear world politics by building an international movement for peace.