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"The film is as unexpected as Roy's life," says French director Vladimir Leon of Le Brahmane Du Komintern (The Comintern Brahmin: The Untold Story of MN Roy). Founder of Communist parties in India and Mexico in the 1940s, MN Roy's contribution to history remains untapped. The film is an inquiry into the life of the political leader caught in the warp of historical circumstances, and his personal journey. The first Indian screening is organised by Indian Renaissance Institute in Delhi, founded by Roy, and will be shown at the India International Centre, today.
How did you decide to make a film on MN Roy?
After Indian historian Hari Vasudevan showed me a photograph where Lenin, Gorky and Zinoviev were standing with a tall Indian, totally unknown to me, I discovered that this forgotten man was a successful Bengali nationalist of the early 20th century — an arms smuggler for the insurrection, the founder of the Mexican Communist Party, a top leader of the Communist International in Moscow, a member of the Communist Opposition Party in Berlin in the 30s, and a party leader in India, until, finally, a forgotten man living in his little white house in Dehradun. I thought this was clearly a plot for a film.
Considering there wasn't much material on Roy, what were the difficulties in making the film?
My documentary was based on that lack of information. I wanted to know how difficult it is to uncover a story once the official history has decided that Roy was not a major figure. So I went to Mexico, Germany, Russia and India and I looked for what remained of Roy in those countries . I met people such as a former guerrilla fighter from South America (Adolfo Gilly), the nationalist Russian leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a German communist opposition activist and some fascinating intellectuals close to Roy in India such as Sibnarayan Ray.