TISS student’s docufilm heads for the Big Apple
‘Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey’ selected for Dalit Film and Cultural Festival.
After doing the rounds of campuses across India, TISS student Somnath Waghmare’s documentary Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey is heading for New York colleges.
The film has been selected for the Film and Cultural Festival 2019 to be held in New York on February 23-24. It will share space with the works of acclaimed filmmakers Nagraj Manjule and Pa Ranjith.
“This is the first time my film is going to be screened at an international platform. I am thrilled as I had tried to send it to many international fora, but the network of savarna (caste Hindus) academics and filmmakers is so strong, they shun your work. Even those who worked in the anti-caste space did not respond to me. International festivals have steep fees of Rs 10,000-20,000. This time, the Indian Ambedkarites in the US, who knew of my work, approached me. Both Nagraj and Ranjith have been my inspirations. I would never have imagined sharing space with them,” said Waghmare, a secondyear MPhil student of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at TISS.
Waghmare began filming his documentary long before Bhima Koregaon became a flashpoint in 2018. Waghmare worked on collecting social memories for a year and completed the film in April 2017. Since then, it has been screened at 75 locations in the country, including 50 campuses. In New York, it is slated to be screened at The New School and Columbia University.
“When I was pursuing media studies earlier, I realised that cinema and media largely ignored Dalit issues. The film industry gave glorified versions of the Peshwas. I felt the need to tell a positive story of Dalit assertion,” he said.
Waghmare’s film made the cut for its topicality and the specific anticaste lens of his work. “We were particular about selecting documentaries by Dalit filmmakers and how they represented the topics they dealt with, while crossing the threshold of merit at the same time. Waghmare is a first generation filmmaker [from the community] and we are not going to apply the same lens as that for a Quentin Tarantino movie. We received a lot of entries and we have shortlisted his film,” said Suraj Yengde, fellow, Initiative for Anti-Racism and Accountability at Harvard Kennedy School, who is part of the festival’s organising team. He said deliberations are still underway on whether to screen the entire documentary or part of it due to time constraints.
Waghmare, however, will not be able to attend the event due to his academic submissions and the difficulty in getting a visa at such a short notice.
Courtesy: By Rahi Gaikwad / Mumbai Mirror