India Untouched - Stories of a People Apart | 1hr : 45mins
Director: Stalin K. | Producer: DRISHTI - Media, Arts and Human Rights
Focus Years: 2007 | Country: India
â€œIndia Untouched - Stories of a People Apartâ€ is perhaps the most comprehensive look at Untouchability ever undertaken on film. Director Stalin K. spent four years traveling the length and breadth of the country to expose the continued oppression of "Dalits", the "broken people" who suffer under a 4000-year-old religious system. The film introduces leading Benares scholars who interpret Hindu scriptures to mean that Dalits "have no right" to education, and Rajput farmers who proudly proclaim that no Dalit may sit in their presence, and that the police must seek their permission before pursuing cases of atrocities. The film captures many "firsts-on-film", such as Dalits being forced to dismount from their cycles and remove their shoes when in the upper caste part of the village. It exposes the continuation of caste practices and Untouchability in Sikhism, Christianity and Islam, and even amongst the communists in Kerala. Dalits themselves are not let off the hook: within Dalits, sub-castes practice Untouchability on the "lower" sub-castes, and a Harijan boy refuses to drink water from a Valmiki boy. The viewer hears that Untouchability is an urban phenomenon as well, inflicted upon a leading medical surgeon and in such hallowed institutions as JNU, where a Brahmin boy builds a partition so as not to look upon his Dalit roommate in the early morning. A section on how newspaper matrimonial columns are divided according to caste presents urban Indians with an uncomfortable truth: marriage is the leading perpetuator of caste in India. But the film highlights signs of hope, too: the powerful tradition of Dalit drumming is used to call people to the struggle, and a young Dalit girl holds her head high after pulling water from her village well for the first time in her life. Spanning eight states and four religions, this film will make it impossible for anyone to deny that Untouchability continues to be practiced in India.