The film, for a start, points out one of the most basic misconceptions about caste in
The film documents the pervasive domination of the upper castes that often takes extra-judicial forms. For instance, the film shows a Rajput who holds that the police must consult their community before filing a case of atrocity against them. These statements depict the failure of the legal system in protecting the basic right sanctioned to every citizen of
The film on one hand portrays the sense of superiority prevailing in upper castes and on the other, we see the plight of “oppressed classes” because of ‘pollution’ bestowed on them by religion. It looks at how scripture and ritual play an important role in the perpetuation of caste. The film portrays the stand of several spiritual heads on the issues of caste and untouchability.
The film destroys any illusions one might have about caste discrimination being a primarily rural phenomenon, enforced through rituals of purity and pollution. It is shocking to know that discrimination is seen even in premier institutions like JNU. The experiences of a doctor who is subjected to discrimination on the basis of caste is the perfect example to show the ‘operation’ of caste in a sophisticated way in the present day world. The doctor calls it “Hi-tech discrimination”: even highly educated and meritorious Dalits are also subjected to untouchability and discrimination. In the light of these incidents, even education is not going to eradicate discrimination and untouchability. The prevalence of discrimination on the lines of caste in states like Kerala - which is recognized as a progressive state for its cent percent literacy, development and communism - is astonishing. It is shocking to know that even now in this so-called globalised world, Dalits are being denied a basic right like being allowed to draw drinking water from public wells.
Discrimination makes itself felt even in the education sphere. Dalit children are made to sit in the last row of the class and they are made to clean the toilets. The film depicts how a school going child in whose mind the seeds of discrimination are sown mindlessly end up unwittingly practicing untouchability in some form or the other. The film shows the pressing need to find an answer to the abomination of caste.
However, the film which highlights various form of discrimination, atrocities, and the plight of dalits end with a note of hope. The vibrant music in the film demands a change - a change that will bring for the oppressed Dalit equality, protection of his basic human rights and his life. The film calls for immediate action which will help those sections of people who are denied rights and are subjected to oppression for ages. Prevalence of caste discrimination and untouchability is certainly a black spot on the image of progressive
About the Director:
Stalin K. is a human rights activist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. In recent years, he has become known for his pioneering 'participatory media' work with urban and rural communities, in which local people produce their own videos and radio programs as an empowerment tool. He is the Co-Founder of DRISHTI - Media, Arts and Human Rights, Convener of the Community Radio Forum-India, and the
'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 Earth Vision Film Festival, Tokyo, and helped to bring international attention to the issue of caste.
By Sudhams Cherukupalli