Tamil Nadu’s Pa Ranjith and Maharashtra’s Subodh Nagdeve and Nagraj Manjule have won the Best Director Award at the Dalit Film and Cultural Festival held recently in New York. Nagdeve won the award for Bole India Jai Bhim, Pa. Ranjith for Kaala and Nagraj Manjule for Fandry, reported ToI.
Nagadev’s film is based on the life on Babu Hardas LN, an associate of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Hardas was also the first MLA from Nagpur Kamptee constituency in 1937. “Very few have heard about Hardas, and so many in the US asked me if he was the son of Dr Ambedkar,” Nagdeve was quoted as saying.
Kaala, starring Rajinikanth, Eswari Rao and Nana Patekar, among others, speaks of the class struggle in Dharavi, and how there is finally redemption. The film celebrates the enterprise of the people who live in Dharavi, while making a case as to why the people should have agency about their future. Fandry, starring Somnath Avghade and Rajeshwari Kharat, is about a teenager from an oppressed family who lives in the fringes of a village, and likes an upper caste girl. The climax of the film is a much-spoken about one.
The first Dalit Film Festival was jointly organized by US Ambedkarites and Dr Ambedkar International Mission, in association with the University of Columbia. The University had awarded Dr Ambedkar a doctorate in economics in 1927 and an honorary degree in 1952 for his work in the sphere of human rights and social reforms.
At the festival, held on February 23 and 24, six films and six documentaries, either made by Dalits or focussing on the plight of Dalits in society were screened. Nagdeve, who spoke at the festival, said “Dalit is not a term specific to India. It addresses the oppressed class, and every country around the world has a section of society that is struggling to be heard.”
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