Jai Bhim Comrade
PROD CO Anand Patwardhan
After Mumbai police killed ten unarmed Dalit protestors in 1997, "untouchable" singer/poet Vilas Ghogre was pushed beyond his breaking point and took his own life. Outraged by both the massacre and the loss of a dear friend, India’s leading documentarian Anand Patwardhan (In the Name of God) dedicated the next 14 years of his life to crafting this tour de force. And while born of frustration, it’s executed with tremendous guile and restraint. In condemning Hindu extremism and the millennia of oppression endured by the Dalit, Patwardhan immerses himself in their lives, inviting them to share their struggles with discrimination. In the process, he showcases the underclass’ indomitable spirit. Refused their basic human rights, their poems and protest songs are impassioned and full-voiced. In condemning "the ongoing atrocity of caste," Patwardhan also composes a landmark music documentary that possesses uncommon soulfulness and undeniable power. Of course, in the largest frame of reference, Patwardan’s subject is the appalling possibilities one might fear with the rise of extremist nationalism in general.
"An inarguable rejoinder to anyone who assumes recent legislation concerning Dalit schooling and quotas for state-sector jobs means that the age of discrimination is over… The eloquent social critiques delivered by its subjects, as well as the fire and lyrical fervour in their ballads, oratory and street-theatre performances, bear out the claim, delivered by one interviewee: ’In every lane there’s a poet, and in every hovel there’s a singer.’ …Jai Bhim Comrade could be seen as a capstone to Patwardhan’s extraordinary career."—Sukhdev Sandhu, Guardian