CPH:DOX Review: A Night of Knowing Nothing

While the government might like to try and portray their country as a modern progressive democracy, nothing could be further from the truth. Traditional discrimination and prejudices, largely in the form of the caste system and the kind of gender inequality that borders on the barbaric, remain. While the current government seems hellbent on fuelling societal tensions and facilitating violence from Hindu religious fanatics.

Young people, usually spearheaded by students, have taken to protest as a way of trying to exact change, but it’s normally confronted by strongarm tactics and police brutality. How do filmmakers respond in an atmosphere like this? In A Night of Knowing Nothing, Payal Kapadia uses a cache of discovered letters from the mysterious ‘L’ to an estranged lover as her inspiration to make a film about the problems of modern India.

A Night of Knowing Nothing is a fascinating report on a country which is full of contradictions. Taking the central (unrequited) love affair as its base, it’s an enthralling voyeuristic snapshot of time and place. Focusing on the student protest movement and the reaction to it, but also the archaic prejudice and discrimination which filters through the society. While it might stretch the point a little, A Night of Knowing Nothing skilfully gets its message across.

A Night of Knowing Nothing screens at CPH:DOX.

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