The Hyderabad Film Club, in association with the S N School of Performing Arts, Fine Arts & Communication, and supported by Bakelite Hylam Limited and the M V Foundation, is screening a short film called India Untouched - Stories Of A People Apart, by Ahmedabad-based documentary filmmaker K Stalin, on 17th September, at the Prasad Labs Preview Theatre on Road No. 2, Banjara Hills.
Produced by Navsarjan and Drishti Media, Arts & Human Rights, and presented by Navsarjan Trust, India Untouched is a new documentary that will make it impossible for anyone in India to deny that untouchability is still practiced today. The film is perhaps the most comprehensive look at caste oppression ever undertaken on film.
The film introduces leading Benares scholars who interpret Hindu scriptures to mean that Dalits 'have no right' to education, and Rajput farmers who proudly proclaim that no Dalit may sit in their presence, and that the police must seek their permission before pursuing cases of atrocities.
It also captures many 'firsts-on-film', such as Dalits being forced to dismount from their cycles and remove their shoes when in the village of upper caste people. It exposes the continuation of caste practices in Sikhism, Christianity and Islam, and even amongst the communists in Kerala. Dalits themselves are not let off the hook: within Dalits, sub-castes practice untouchability on the 'lower' sub-castes, and a Harijan boy refuses to drink water from a Valmiki boy.
The viewer hears that untouchability is an urban phenomenon as well, inflicted upon a leading medical surgeon and in such hallowed institutions as JNU, where a Brahmin boy builds a partition so as not to look upon his Dalit roommate in the early morning.
But the film highlights signs of hope, too: the powerful tradition of Dalit drumming is used to call people to the struggle, and a young Dalit girl holds her head high after pulling water from her village well for the first time in her life.
In an age where the media projects only one image of a Rising India and urges the public to dismantle the reservation system, this film reminds us how far we are from being an equal society.
India Untouched is Stalin's second film on the issue of caste — his earlier film Lesser Humans, on manual scavenging, won the Silver Conch at the Mumbai International Film Festival and the Excellence Award at the Earth Vision Film Festival, Tokyo, and helped to bring international attention to the issue of caste.
Stalin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and human rights activist from Gujarat, India. He is the founder of Drishti Media Collective, the partner organization of Video Volunteers. Drishti is an internationally recognized media group working for the democratization and demystification of media. He is also convener of the Community Radio Forum-India, and the India Director of Video Volunteers.
Stalin has directed 12 documentaries and has won several international awards for his films. He is one of the leading voices of the 'Free The Radio' movement in India and set up one of the first community radio programs in the country.
Besides involving himself in media and activism, he has taught at over a dozen universities in India and the Philippines, including at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and New York University, Stanford and Berkeley in the US.
Please contact Bh S S Prakash Reddy of the Hyderabad Film Club at 2373-0841/93910-20243 for further details.