In these past years conversations about caste and class in India have finally started seeping into the mainstream. When it comes to stories based on class and caste, it is important who is telling them and how. While most mainstream Bollywood films may or may not do justice to them, here are some short films that talk about caste and class with nuance, sensitivity and also humour.
1. Rammat Gammat
Director of the acclaimed Fire in the Mountains Ajitpal Singh’s 2018 film Rammat Gammat is set in rural Gujarat is a tender tale of friendship between two boys. One rich upper-caste and one poor lower-caste boy who are the best of friends until the rich boy gets a shiny new pair of football shoes.
It depicts how the young boys learn about their respective positions in society, their dynamics and the hierarchies while navigating the space of their pure boyish friendship.
You can watch film on Mubi.
2. Geeli Pucchi
Part of Netflix’s Ajeeb Daastaans anthology, Geeli Pucchi, by Neeraj Ghaywan, starring Konkona Sensharma and Aditi Rao Hydari, is a brilliant narrative on caste, class, gender and sexuality, highlighting workplace discrimination.
With very human, grey characters, it’s a layered film about the power dynamics of caste and gender. While Konkona’s character has accepted and has come to terms with her queerness and caste, Aditi’s character is still struggling about her identities and her prejudices. Geeli Pucchi is a must watch.
Ajeeb Daastaans is streaming on Netflix.
3. Share Auto
Pa. Ranjith’s Neelam Productions’s short film Share Auto, a part of the #VoteOutHate campaign, is based on the popular urban legend that casteism is dead. It brings to light the racial-religious discrimination that exists in society. Written and directed by Jenny Dolly, it’s a common tale of micro-aggressions in the way light-skinned upper-caste people treat dark-skinned lower-caste people. With great complementing music, Share Auto is a mirror to urban discrimination.
Karishma Dev Dube’s Devi is an internationally acclaimed short film dealing with sexuality and caste in India. It follows the journey of a young closeted woman who risks family and societal traditions as she pursues her attraction to her house help.
Watch Devi here.
5. The Discreet Charm of the Savarnas
A funny, satirical and modern tale of caste in metropolitan Indian cities, The Discreet Charm of the Savarnas, by Rajesh Rajamani, is a commentary on the role of ‘woke’ liberal savarnas in upholding the caste system. On a quest to find a ‘Dalit-looking’ actor for their short film, three young and woke filmmakers meet different people in the city of Mumbai. With an amazing sound score, it perfectly captures the sensibility of most savarnas.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.