Web video looks to give voice to the Indian Dalit

Being Indian, a web channel by Culture Machine might be associated with humorous videos. But the team has also been working on The Indian series that documents communities where its voices express thoughts about their identity. After The Indian Muslim and The Indian Sikh, the team is now ready to upload The Indian Dalit.

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The 13-minute long video in this series throws light on the community, giving it a 360-degree spin. Those familiar with its earlier episodes will notice how these videos have common people, across cities and backgrounds, discuss what it means like to be a part of a community and how it shapes their place the society. “We wanted to stay clear of any opinions. We wanted it to be a space to express,” says Ayushman Gupta, channel director. To ensure it wasn’t a lopsided view, its makers have spoken with people across backgrounds — from degree-holding scavengers to scholars, and professors.

Ayushman Gupta, channel director
Ayushman Gupta, channel director

Gupta says that the grand celebration of India’s diversity comes at a price. It is seen as a differentiating factor and is a part of the identity that makes some supreme and some beneath, he believes. When asked about how he dealt with the issue of sensitivity while filming, he says, “We come from a place of love. When we told people that we didn’t mean to demean them, they opened up.” Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s guidance to the community also comes through in the video, with the interviewees from all age groups raving about his influence. The video also includes an excerpt from BBC’s sound archives where Dr Ambedkar speaks of his differences with Mahatma Gandhi on the subject of a separate electorate for Dalits, an incident that resulted in The Poona Pact in 1932.

For diverse representation of people in the videos, the makers met all kinds of people. “I hail from Benaras, which is the bastion of Brahmin culture but I consider myself as someone who is away from all of this. During the making, I learnt that there is a community below the Shudras called the Ati Shudras,” he reminds us.

The video releases today at noon
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