A 14-year labour of will, Jai Bhim Comrade is an epic eye-opener for those who are unfamiliar with India's severe caste discrimination. Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan prologues with the 1997 Ramabai Colony shootings that killed 10 Dalits - the oppressed, or "untouchables" - and proceeds to illuminate the socially destructive stratification that has existed for over 2,000 years. Meandering through the dusty alleys of Ramabai and the Maharashtra villages, songs of "upliftment" and lament are being passed on to younger generations, urging them to continue the struggle for dignity.
Dalits sing to recall their heroes past - most notably the political leader Bhimrao Ambedkar - and to hope for a better future. In an ominous turn, his teachings are being deceptively subverted by casteist, vote-hungry politicians as dissenting Dalit voices are repressed. Times definitely look bleak, but Jai Bhim is meant to incite and outrage - and it does so with eloquence.
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