Cinema, literature can help bring new India, say students

Dharamsala, Oct 26 (IANS) They are young, energised and want to see their country free from wrong deeds. Students of Government College of Teacher Education, who came to watch the screening of Nagraj Manjule's "Fandry" at DIFF, believe that cinema and literature have the power to build a new India.

Manjule, who just won the jury award for "Fandry" at the recently concluded Mumbai International Film Festival, presented his first feature film in front of critics, filmmakers and young students at the ongoing DIFF.

The Marathi film, revolving around an "untouchable" (Dalit) boy and his love for a girl from a higher caste, was presented to a packed house in Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts at McLeod Ganj here and when it concluded, the audience applauded.

The school kids were completely engrossed in Manjule's beautiful narration of casteism in India and even complimented the director for the same.

"Sir, thank you for coming here and showing the caste system through your film. We feel that cinema and literature are powerful mediums to show wrong activities happening in the society and you did that. I am honoured to be a part of this moment," said 18-year-old Ravi Shankar Rao.

In the film, Jabya, a young boy played by Somnath Avghade, stays with his family in a dirt-floor shack. They belong to Dalit communit and are given the worst jobs to perform by the villagers, such as being the only ones "allowed" to touch the filthy pigs.

The story also shows how Jabya falls in love with Shalu, a fair-skinned girl from higher caste family.

The film also deals with dowry system, which made Priyanka Sahi, a student, emotional.

"We want you to raise this issue also, as being girls we suffer a lot," she said.

Manjule, a Dalit himself, hails from a small village in Maharastra and shared that this is his own story and this is the reason people connected with it so well.

"I was told that I am making my first feature film so, I should watch other films too. However, I felt that I am selling my own story and I do not need to see any other film. I feel the more personal a film is, the more realistic it is. With that we can relate with the audience," Manjule told IANS.

He also feels that casteism is still prevalent in India and it is very "unfortunate".

"There is clear rural and urban divide in India and casteism still continues. People often ask what is your last name and then they define your caste. Once they get to know about you, their behaviour changes automatically," he said.

"I feel that if youth of today will change, society will also change," he added.

(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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