FC Hotlist: Arbab Ahmad Documents Life in ‘Insides And Outsides’

Prathyush Parasuraman

The Film, Which Won an Award for Best Editing at (IDSFFK)

‘Insides And Outsides’ is a shape-shifting exploration of Muslim identity in contemporary India. Giving voice to the dissent that erupted in 2019, with the protests surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Insides and Outsides Director Arbab Ahmad

Arbab has been shooting footage, composing the world into frames, since he was 14 years old, making those around him more comfortable with the leering, extractive gaze of a camera; they react to it as an extension to him. 

SCENE 1: A Litany of Loss

In the background, someone knocks on the door and calls for Arbab. It’s his mother. She bangs on the door, louder and louder. The timbre of the sound becomes more and more shrill as his mother calls out “Arbab”, again and again.

SCENE 2: For the Love of Breakfast and a Cheese Slice

The Ahmad family is in the midst of their relocation. Arbab follows his father with his camera as the older man walks into the kitchen. “Yeh kya hamara aakhri nashta ban raha hai yahan pe?”

SCENE 3: A Need And a Name

Asks them why they have not hung a nameplate outside their new house even though they had one in their old house? His father rationalises that the new house is “road-facing” and that it could be marked as a Muslim home by anyone.