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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The library collection has Bollywood films, independent films, and documentaries. We also have some music, however, this is difficult to discover since many Dalits do not disclose their caste background in order to win acclaim in the Bollywood film/music industry. Here are selected documentaries, fictional movies, and music within our collection.
In English. 51 min. Westerners realize the grave situation of India's "untouchables." There are 150 million of them who live a segregated life. They cannot own land or get an education and are condemned to the most menial jobs, such as sweeping streets, cleaning toilets, or butchering animals. In the villages they are subject to abuse, sometimes killed for minor slights to the landowners. While the government has tried to improve the condition of the untouchables, these attempts have been met by strong resistance. However, a few leaders have arisen from their ranks, who work for change.
This is a one-hour DVD documentary feature that accompanies a book which addresses the experiences and position of women students, from application to college through graduate school, and the barriers they encounter; the continuing inequalities in the rates of promotion and progression of women and other marginalized groups to positions of authority, and the gap in earnings between men and women; and pays particular attention to how race and other social markers impact such disparities, contextualizing them across all institutional types.
In English. 57 min. It is common knowledge that untouchables occupy the lowest place in the Hindu caste system. Despite the legal abolition of untouchability a half-century ago, they continue to be the target of systematic discrimination and comprise a highly disproportionate percentage of India's illiterate, landless and jobless population. In a small town in India, a few Dalits swam in the part of the lake "reserved" for their upper caste neighbors who sued in protest. The Court ruled that the Dalits were within their rights. The upper caste people were furious with the decision and took revenge by throwing excrement in the well used by the Dalits. The film also discusses the landlord-sponsored militia, Ranbir Sena's Army, which is attacking agricultural laborers and their families, all of them Dalits.
In English. 45 min. Many millions of women in India today suffer painful and cruel oppression simply because of their gender and caste identity. This film unearths astonishing and rarely filmed evidence of discrimination against Dalit women.
In English. 26 min. Following an eighteen-month stay in India, Peter Hopkinson, a March of Time cameraman, reports on the people, economic conditions and political life of the country today. Notes that while changes in India's government were quite drastic, the lives of the people have changed little. Compares the life of a Maharaja (king) with that of an untouchable. Demonstrates how the Parsies, such as the Tata family, have established industries and have become a powerful influence in India. Examines the importance of the film industry, religion and education to the culture of India.
Call Number: DVD PN1997 .A225767 2004 - Undergraduate Media Collection
Publication Date: 1980
In Hindi with English subtitles. 144 min. Expressionist-fiction based on a true political crime in a small town near Bombay. A tribal man, Lahanya (Om Puri), wrongly accused of murdering his wife stays silent; an investigation reveals that his wife was killed by a group of businessmen and politicians who had raped her, and that local police are aiding the cover-up. The film pits the idealism of a young lawyer, Bhaskar (Naseeruddin Shah), who is the public defendent for the man against the inhumanity of the very milieu he has grown up in and is a part of, and which exploits the tribals off their labor, life, and dignity. Especially poignant is Bhaskar's relationship with his mentor (Amrish Puri) who is the public prosecutor in this case.
Call Number: DVD PN1997 S443556 2000 - Undergraduate Media Collection
Publication Date: 1973
In Hindi with English subtitles. 125 min. Values clash as loyalties are tried and tested in a rural Indian setting. Class conflict of the idle-rich landowning class against toiling peasants is dramatized in a brief extra-marital liaison between an attractive village laborer and her young employer.
In Bengali with English subtitles. 121 min. A father encourages his daughter to marry a dying man in order to inherit his wealth in this social drama set in 1830s India. She is expected to practice the ancient Hindu ritual known as suttee in which the widow throws herself on the burning funeral pyre of her late husband. The British colonial government has outlawed the practice, and an untouchable tries to persuade the woman to abandon the idea that will lead to her death. The dying man often comes to life to display his jealousy as people prepare for his funeral on the banks of the Ganges River.
In Hindi with English subtitles. 116 min. (Trailer above).
An elderly folk singer and grassroots organizer, dubbed the 'people's poet,' is arrested on a trumped-up charge of inciting a sewage worker to commit suicide. His trial is a ridiculous and harrowing display of institutional incompetence, with endless procedural delays, coached witnesses for the prosecution, and obsessive privileging of arcane colonial law over reason and mercy.
Call Number: DVD PN1997 .N574368 2000 - Undergraduate Media Collection
Publication Date: 1975
In Hindi-Urdu with English subtitles. 137 min. This village is completely controlled and dominated by a wealthy zamindar (landowner). Into this feudal atmosphere comes a new schoolmaster, his wife and their child. Unrest builds up. Discontent becomes visible.
Many political Dalit music performances are a street phenomenon and not formally recorded. Additionally, famous Dalit musicians including Sonu Nigam and Kailash Kher have hidden their caste origin in order to receive acclaim in the Bollywood film/music industry. In this section, you will find some music online and music in our collection by and/or about Dalits. Additionally, here is an article about the politics of sound in the Dalit struggle.
VHS. 25 min. "We are not your monkeys" is a song composed by Daya Pawar which disputes the notion of divine superiority in Indian culture. It offers a lower caste perspective of the Ramayana story of Hindu legend. It is sung by Sambhaji Bhagat. "Occupation, millworker" tells the story of the New Great Eastern Mill in Bombay, which was taken over by the workers after a four year lockout by management.