Director – Anand Patwardhan (180 min) 2012
The recent election in India of a rightwing reactionary government and the collapse of the Congress Party again exposes the basic contradictions within India. The lowest caste, the Dalit or “untouchables,” for thousands of years, was denied education and treated as bonded labour. By 1923 Bhimrao Ambedkar broke the taboo, won doctorates abroad and fought for the emancipation of his people. He helped draft India’s Constitution and led his followers to discard Hinduism for Buddhism. His legend still spreads through poetry and song.
In 1997, a Dalit protest erupted in a Mumbai slum after a statue of B.R. Ambedkar was desecrated. Ambedkar (1891-1956) was a reformist who agitated to end the caste system, helped Gandhi write the Indian constitution and amassed a large following among the Dalit. At the protest, 10 unarmed people were killed when police opened fire. Singer, poet and activist Vilas Ghogre later committed suicide to protest the killings.
Shot over 14 years, this three hour film is jam-packed with information. The film covers the biographies of both Ghogre and Ambedkar as well as Indian politics and the day-to-day lives of the Dalit who are still struggling for freedom and justice in India.