Debate over the film, Mangal Pandey, has raged on its putative lack of objectivity on the one hand, and on the other, on its depiction of an event that still has the power to "move" people. Ever since films emerged as a mass medium of significance, the notions of the "public sphere" in democracy have changed as well. This is especially so over remembering an event such as 1857, on which Indians continue to have very differing opinions. This paper argues that concerns over the film, as with 1857 itself, speak of an unresolved question of Indian democracy, i e, whether the two domains of Indian democracy, comprising the "elite" and the "subaltern", can ever combine to produce a "politics of the people". Such a politics would give Indian democracy both a working sense of sovereignty and a lively sense of being truly a democracy.