11:53 PM (23 hours ago)
Dear (Jai Bhim) Comrade Anand Patwardhan
I am yet to get out of the deep impact created by your wonderful documentary Jai Bhim Comrade screed this evening at German hall, T Nagar, Chennai. As witnessed by you, at the end of the film and as you were getting ready to respond to feedback and questions, I could not resist my spontaneous cry at you that "You are not a film maker, but a devil!"
As I settle down before my lap top back at home, I still feel like living through the moments of your portrayal frame by frame of the state of affairs of Dalits over all in the nation in the backdrop of conflicting view points, clashing ideological positions and exploiting political expediency.
The tremendous home work that has gone into this film making is best understood from the time you have taken to produce, wait for turn of events both on political and legal battlegrounds and ultimately fix the correct timing of finishing this wonderful work.
That you have made the setting at Ramabhai colony the place where the lives of 10 people were taken in an indiscriminate firing by a casteist police force against the agitating people who felt offended by the desecration of the Ambedkar statue and woven the whole focus around this spark was simply superb.
Your entire film runs non stop for 3 hrs 20 minutes without any hiccups encapsulating it in an enlivening, enlightening, awakening and inspiring series of revolutionary songs sung by different cultural troupes of well entrenched philosophical base.
The life of the revolutionary poet/singer Vilas Ghogre who committed suicide due to the depression compounded by the happenings of 11th July 1997 is depicted by you in all dignity and reverence that pulls across the thread of the film through the stories of so many other martyrs, heroes and heroines unsung.
The second part is truly choking. emotive and heavy. The dedicated youngster in that powerful singer Sheethal was simply fantastic. The gradual acceptance of her by her mother set in the background of Sheethal's own song on mother is shown in the film towards her ultimate raising to the position of supporting her daughter's revolutionary attire and endorsing the cultural troupe's commitment to bring about changes through their songs and drum! Though not in full sense, i was reminded of Maxim Gorkhy's Mother !
That the dalit political groups compromised the interests of the community and purchased peace for self-seeking fortunes and the hypocrisy and betrayal by congress on the one side and the BJP-Shiv Sena on the other has been very powerfully shot in the film with direct coverage of the speeches of Bal Thackray, Narendra Modi and Chavan. It was a horrible sight to spot the RPI leaders switching to both sides alternately selling off the the issues on hand.
Your critical note on the Left in not prioritising Caste question in our Indian context would be definitely interacted upon in the relevant quarters. There is a need to debate on the views. The aspersion and arrogance of the dominant caste youths and old alike against the growing assertion attempted by dalits has been ably brought out by their own statements and observations.
That the police official responsible for that mass killing of innocent lives at Mumbai on 11 7 97 is handled with a kid glove and is taken to a hospital and not to the jail even after being convicted speaks volumes of our criminal justice, democracy and the like.
That the poor dalits so easily forget who were at the helm of affairs of the state of Maharashtra when the above police excess took place is a shocking reminder of the reality. But your hopeful and stirring note of Sheethal's eloquent singing of invoking the name of Babhasaheb Ambedkar not as an incarnation, but a fighting mobilisation gave the necessary feel of apt conclusion of this classic work of yours.
Kudos again to you, Anand!
Wishing a successful screening tomorrow the 21st January Saturday at kalakshetra at 6 pm!
Hope those who missed it in City today may try and view it tomorrow.
S V Venugopalan