At first glance, The World is Family might seem like a radical departure from the political nonfiction cinema that Anand Patwardhan has been traditionally known for. A warm and affectionate tribute to his parents, Balu and Nirmala, it is indeed his most personal film till date. But for Patwardhan, the personal is political. Through old family photographs and anecdotes, newspaper clippings, archival material and a series of candid interviews of his parents, their relatives and friends, Patwardhan paints a persuasive picture of the political landscape during India’s freedom struggle, the birth of a nation and the tragedy of Partition.
Be it the nonviolent, pacifist activism guided by Gandhi, or the revolutionary zeal inspired from the likes of Bhagat Singh and Bose, an entire generation of Indians, quite like Patwardhan’s parents, ardently believed in and was deeply committed to the values enshrined in India’s Constitution—liberty, equality, fraternity, secularism. Values that are facing a threat in these divisive times when fundamentalism is rearing its head and history is getting forcibly rewritten. The film then is a mellow and urgent appeal to hold on to the spirit of unity and compassion, inclusivity and universality enshrined in the Sanskrit language phrase, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (“the world is family”).