The films presented in this section have been produced as part of the Working with Video-II course that is offered to the students of MA in Media and Cultural Studies in the third semester. For the course, the students are expected to take up a theme related to the city of Mumbai and explore it from various perspectives using the video documentary form. Apart from providing additional research, visualisation, writing and video production skills to the students, several workshops are organised to orient them to the chosen theme and connect them to relevant individuals and organisations who could facilitate their efforts in research and production, for what will be their first documentary films.
The underlying idea behind such an approach is to encourage students to engage with the city – its past and present – work with people, collectives, movements and organisations that are working to raise and address questions of dignity and justice, and render the stories that remain untold in a critical and sensitive manner.
On the lines of the Castemopolitan Mumbai series produced by the class of 2015, several similar projects have been undertaken by the students and faculty members of the School. These are:
- From the Margins Transforming M-East Ward: A set of films and oral history videos from the severely disadvantaged municipal ward in Eastern Mumbai.
- Remembering 1992 A set of films and interviews revisiting the city two decades after the violence it experienced in 1992-93.
- GiranMumbai Showcasing stories of erasures, lives, livelihoods and spaces from the mill lands of Mumbai.
The additional film ‘Mich Majhi Sangati’ is also an SMCS production made in the year 2013, and is presented on this page as it speaks poignantly to the theme.
Castemopolitan Mumbai – The Film Series
Deepti Murali, Disha K R, Kshitij Katiyar, Nishajyoti Sharma
Two first generation Dalit migrants reminisce about their past sharing the implications of their caste identity as they moved to Mumbai-the city of Dreams. The film looks into their lives exploring their views about discrimination, religion, marriage, education and upward mobility; as they have transformed over the years. Juxtaposing their encounters with caste in village and the city, the narrative traces the subtleties with which caste gets manifested in the various aspects of their everyday lives. Does the city provide a refuge from rigid structures of caste that pervade rural India or has Ambedkar’s historical dictum fallen short? How can a Dalit retain his caste identity with pride without being victimised by societal structures set in disfavouring hierarchies due to years of oppression? Addressing such questions, the film seeks to establish Anita and Prakash’s negotiation within an urban setting to keep their caste identity intact while seeking deliverance from old-age hierarchies and the systemic conservatism.
Elisha Walia, Faebita Rahiman, Nevin Thomas, Shubhra Dixit, Smita Vanniyar
‘Silence Please!’ is an exploration of how caste is dealt in different schools of Mumbai. Through interviews and personal accounts of the students, teachers and education experts, the film questions the politics behind caste being “history” and how it is made invisible in the urban space. By extension, the film also looks at the attitudes of students and teachers towards the subject of reservation and food choices.
Jaat Baaja Baarat
Aditi Maddali, Ashwin Nag, Priyanka Pal, Shreya Sinha (Alia), Robin Zutshi
‘Jaat Baaja Baraat’ (2015) is definitely a film about marriage… but whether you look at two unfolding stories of love lost and love regained in Bombay, the twisted tale of a twenty-something woman seeking marital bliss, or listen to the disembodied voices of insecure filmmakers- the one thing you cannot escape is caste. Through the stories of Shekhar and Shanti, Rajesh and Bhavana, and the voices of the Arya Samaj and the All India Democratic Women’s Association, the film attempts an exploration of love and inter-caste marriage in the city of Bombay.
Not Caste in Stone
Firdaus Soni, Keduokhrietuo Sachu, Kritika Agarwal, Prateek Shekhar, Vaibhav B Sorte
‘Not Caste in Stone’ (2015) tries to understand the significance of a temple while delving into attributes like caste and power associated with it. It tries to do so, through the story of a more than a century old temple in the heart of Mumbai city, in Dharavi. The Adi-Dravida, a dalit community from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu had started migrating to Bombay in the late 19th century. Apart from other occupations, most of the people from their caste worked in the leather tanneries. In the hustle of the Ganpati festival preparations, organized by the newly elected temple committee, the film explores the history of migration and occupation, understands how Matunga is an exclusionary space and the significance of the temple in everyday life of the people from this community.
Caste on the Menu Card
Ananyaa Gaur, Anurup Khilare, Atul Anand, Reetika Revathy Subramanian, Vaseem Chaudary
The film delves into the idea of food as a site of exclusion by focusing on beef-eating practices in Mumbai. It attempts to portray the prevalence of caste differentiations as seen in the food choices of people in the city and touches upon concerns related to livelihood, social inclusion and human rights. By tracing the mythological and historical roots of the meat-eating culture in our country, the film discusses the hierarchy maintained by Brahminical preferences and its intended subversions. This is seen in the stand taken on dealing with the political economy of the leather and meat industries. The film also follows the ruptured background of universities’ caste politics over the demand of inclusion of beef in institutions. It observes that many restaurants in Mumbai offer beef delicacies, but off the menu. Thus, the film reads ‘Caste on the Menu Card’.the significance of the temple in everyday life of the people from this community.
Ankita Bhatkhande, Dinesh Kumar Mahapatra, Eleanor Almeida, Janminlian Vualnam, Shuaib Shafi
The phenomenon of caste operates in various ways in an urban setting. Though not explicitly seen, through everyday relationships, it subtly operates through mechanisms like language. Although language seems like a natural or neutral phenomenon, one must realize its political nature. Through this film, we’re attempting to delve deeper into the phenomenon of caste as operationalized within language, with respect to Marathi (as it is spoken in Mumbai), through its dialects. It’s an attempt to raise certain questions, like the notion of pure and impure Marathi, and who holds power because of their access to ‘pure’ Marathi. We will also look at how a particular dialect becomes a marker for one’s caste and leads to exclusion and/or discrimination at various levels. In an urban space, it is critical to look at the affect that the compulsion of unlearning one’s caste dialect has, since it is not only about reworking one’s vocabulary and individual habits, but also leads to an erasure of memory and association with one’s community.
Meech Majhi Sangati – I Am My Own Companion
Aanchal Kataria; Archana Vijay Sadar; Juanita Mukhia; Kshitij Pipaleshawar and Tanvi Barge
Poetry has been a potent form of resistance and expression. ‘I Am My Own Companion’ is a story of two women, who navigate through their experiences framed by their identities. For Sharda Navale, poetry is a form of self-expression by weaving together her personal experiences and her angst towards injustice. Her poems appellate the working women and the claustrophobia associated with their personal and professional spheres. Is the presence of women in traditionally male – dominated areas symbolic or a reality of changing times? Chaya Koregaonkar weaves her poems around this argument and expresses how real power still evades women. The gray terrain marked by the responsibility of being both a homemaker and a woman focused on her career is a recurring theme in their poems.This film visualises their poems through the spaces and people who inspire them.