Two Flags, Documentary Film, Pankaj Rishi Kumar

Two Flags: Where the grass is greener on the other side

British colonial rule ended in India in 1947.

Pondicherry, on the southern coast was under French colonial rule. In 1962, it merged with India.

French Citizenship was offered to local Tamils; 6,200 opted for French Nationality.

In Apr’ 2017, 4,600 were eligible to vote for the French Presidential elections.

These statements flash on the screen at the very beginning of Two Flags, a documentary film directed by Pankaj Rishi Kumar, outlining its theme and focus clearly. The film follows the small community of the Tamil French (who are not Indian, but French Nationals) living in Pondicherry and their engagement with the 2017 Presidential election in France.

The film, which is mainly in Tamil and French (with English subtitles) and some English, introduces you — the viewer — to the Tamil French community on the occasion of French National Day celebrations in Pondicherry before diving into the main narrative of the 2017 French Presidential elections. The viewer watches community leaders discuss the merits of different Presidential candidates and predict the percentage of votes their preferred candidates will get. You visit the houses of other members of the Tamil French community, as the leaders exhort them to vote in the elections, sometimes even telling them who they should vote for. You realise with a start that if not for the French-sounding names of the candidates and the occasional French spoken, one could very well be watching the campaigning for elections in India.

Just when you are settling into the film and French election politics, parallel narratives on French language and culture, and another on French citizenship is introduced. And suddenly, Two Flags is not about the 2017 French Presidential elections anymore.

Continue reading “Two Flags: Where the grass is greener on the other side”