Jai Bhim Comrade
Directed by Anand Patwardhan • Documentary • 2012 • 168 minutes
For thousands of years India’s Dalits were abhorred as “untouchables,” denied education and treated as bonded labour. By 1923 Bhimrao Ambedkar broke the taboo, won doctorates abroad and fought for the emancipation of his people. He drafted India’s Constitution, led his followers to discard Hinduism for Buddhism. His legend still spreads through poetry and song. In 1997 a statue of Dr. Ambedkar in a Dalit colony in Mumbai was desecrated with footwear. As angry residents gathered, police opened fire killing 10. Vilas Ghogre, a leftist poet, hung himself in protest. Jai Bhim Comrade shot over 14 years, follows the poetry and music of people like Vilas and marks a subaltern tradition of reason that, from the days of the Buddha, has fought superstition and religious bigotry.