`Animal Farm` is back, with elephants and dragons
Panaji: George Orwell`s famous novel ‘Animal Farm’ is back, this time with elephants and dragons in it.
Farhat Ajnabi`s documentary ‘The Elephant and the Dragon’ (TEATD), which was screened at the Short Film Centre (SFC) of the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI), raised several eyebrows, for extending Orwell`s satire on Stalinist Russia to contemporary geo-political state of affairs, especially the emergence of the New World Order.
"The social relevance of the film is an attempt to depict in a clear, yet light, vein, the many key issues relating to the growth of India and China and the decline of the West as we know it," Farhat, a retired Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, now settled in Brussels, told reporters.
"TEATD is intended as a wake-up call and a starting point for a discussion of these issues. And it is particularly aimed at young people from both `blocs` to prepare them for their respective and interwoven futures," she added.
"The West, India, China, past and present; an aging, assisted Europe; an Asia young, eager to work an ironic allegory on the new world order where the elephant and the dragon take power to the new `Animal Farm`," is Farhat`s summing up of her film, which she co-wrote with her husband Alan Ward.
The rise and challenge of China represented by the `dragon` and India as the `elephant` to the existing World Order, according to Farhat, is not really being acknowledged because of several reasons.
"Particularly in the West, it is not in politicians` interests to present the reality of the near future to the electorate. And it is no help either for Indians to encourage the jingoism of the growing Indian middle class. Neither of these helps to encourage a real understanding of the present and future world order, and how nations and regions can work together, not against each other," she said.
Born of a Persian father and Indian mother, Farhat spent most of her early life in India before joining the Indian Foreign Service and being posted in Paris and Brussels. She is now an international affairs consultant with various governments.
"I resigned from the Service (IFS) after eight years. Now I closely follow the positive and negative effects of globalisation, particularly with regard to the rapidly emerging Asian economies of India and China, and the growth and development of countries in South and Latin America," she said, adding that speaking about the new, emerging balance of world power needed talking about.
"The new balances of power moving from the ageing empires of Europe and the US towards these two blocs - Asia and South America - is clear and evident to those who want to see, but is either ignored or refused by the majority of people in the US and Europe," she said.
Farhat said that she was passionate about cinema (thanks to her India connection) and has acted in many theatrical productions in Europe and has shot TEATD in Brussels, Paris and at a chateau owned by a friend in the Champagne region of France.
"Because of our small budget, we press-ganged friends and family to play in the live action sequences, and chose them so as to get as wide an ethnic mix look as possible - from a Swede to Indians.
"I hope to continue to use out-of-the-box formats, as in the case of `The Elephant & the Dragon`, which mixes song, archives, historical descriptions, contemporary media out-takes, and footage shot specifically for the film," she said.
According to Farhat, the impending in the New World Order is obvious and there are signals, vibes, fact and at times even photographs, which tell you the story of the times to come.
She relates one such.
"Although the photo is a little grainy, (there`s this) pic of a big Lakshmi Mittal looking down with obvious disdain at a small President Sarkozy of France was one we just couldn`t miss out. It says it all," Farhat said.