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Mall Road

Bus Addey, Maal Rode, Camp, Madal Toun, Ajadpur, Shalimaar...

Dalit glamour

Hindu boy meets Muslim girl, or Muslim girl meets Hindu boy. Love. War. Resolution. Hindi movies have done this to death, even adding Pakistan to give the tale a transnational twist. Indian Hindu boy, Pakistani Muslim girl. You know. It works. It sells.

When I read the news report below, I wondered why a dalit boy/Brahmin girl love equation has not been exploited by Hindi cinema. I have my guesses, but let's see what are yours. Leave your answer as a comment below. Also, if at all there are any mainstream (or non-mainstream) movies with love equations revolving around caste, do let me know.

Caste barriers force lovers to commit suicide

Press Trust of India

Moga, Punjab: Caste barriers forced a couple to commit suicide after the family of the girl, who belonged to an upper caste, did not agree to their marriage.

Gurtej Singh, a truck driver, and his beloved Kulwinder Kaur ended their lives in village Alamwala of here yesterday by consuming some poisonous substance, police said.

Kaur yesterday bolted herself inside a room at her house in the village and consumed some poisonous substance, which Gurtej had given her after breaking one of the windowpanes, they said.

Later, Gurtej was also found dead at some distance from the house, they said, adding it was the girl's parents who informed them about the incident.

Police said Kulwinder's parents were opposed to the idea of marrying off their daughter to a Dalit. [The Indian Express]

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-- Blogger Sunil, 6/02/2005 06:09:00 am

It's a pity....in this case, the couple were Sikhs, and it's a shame that Sikhs still believe in caste, even though the religion explicitly forbids it. A shame, but in India there remain Christian dalits, and Muslim dalits as well.

And the economic aspect (for groups with vested interests) in continuing caste is even more saddening.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/02/2005 09:48:00 am

it is a complicated religion*caste matrix - one variable is not enough to decide anything. There was an excellent Tamil movie (fat use that will be of to you, but you could ask someone about it) called 'vedam pudidu'(a new veda) on this caste thingy.    

-- Blogger shaun, 6/04/2005 12:50:00 am

Sunil: I hope you weren't deliberately trying to shift the focus to Sikhs and Punjab! It's also a shame that Hindus still believe in caste despite accepting to live under the rule of and abide by a constitution that outlaws caste. And much, much more gory stories of caste atrocities come from (and often )dont come at all, that is they are not reported) all of India.

Charu: Could you please explain what you mean by "it is a complicated religion*caste matrix - one variable is not enough to decide anything"? As I said in my post, I think the caste aspect is ignored in Hindi movies insofar it is always on the sidelines if it is there at all. I don't have much knowledge of Tamil movies but I'm sure things can't be much better there either. The example you quote, is it an isolated one?    

-- Blogger Unknown, 6/04/2005 04:53:00 pm

not trying to raise a cultural storm here but i think majority of our Indian population still believes highyl in the caste system.. pick up ToI Matri and you will see brides and grooms neatly classified based on their castes..
i wonder how far can we be in this revolution when the newspapers are still aflot with this kinda classification.    

-- Blogger Vulturo, 6/05/2005 07:34:00 pm

Caste Based discrimination is bad. For the film makers Hindus vs Muslims and India vs Pakistan is a hotter topic than the dull drab Bramhin-Dalit divide. They would rather leave that to social commentators like us. They are obliged to make what sells. Dalit-Bramhin love theme would brand the film as an "Art Film" which is actually bad for sales.

Discrimination in any form is bad. But it exists. Its either caste or religion or economic standing or 'class' or whatever. There is a long time to go before enough social mutation occurs to render these issues meaningless. The Pedigree has to be broken.    

-- Blogger Sunil, 6/06/2005 11:33:00 am

Why would i want to deliberately shift the focus to Sikhs and Punjab? I don't understand.

And I have been working with specific dalit communities for the past 3 years, so just pointed out an additional aspect of how ingrained it has become in Indian society, and why it is even harder to expunge from the system. That is all. Please don't infer more from a comment than there is.    

-- Blogger shaun, 6/07/2005 08:28:00 pm

Sunil: Please acept my apologies.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/08/2005 03:44:00 am

hi. this is jomo. i just want to make a small clarification on what vulturo said about bollywood prefering to leave "such" stuff for social commentators. it is important to recognise that it is nothing as innocent as this. it is a conspiracy of silence, not a market strategy. dalits are keep out of the media. caste is kept out of the media. insight has been working on this train of thought consistantly: namely: that the hindu-muslim divide has been and will continue to be used (and effectively i might add) to thwart the effective raising of the caste question in india. also there is a need to stop being appologetic about religion, like these comments about punjab as the focus etc. all religion is redundant. its time we stopped pussy footing around this nonsense called religious sentiments. more damage has been done "respecting religious sentiments" than, possiblly, by AIDS in india. religions must be attacked and exposed for what they are, empty shells of partisan myths and delusional promises. there can be no appologies about this. the more we let this nonsense flourish the further we regress. i should state here that i am neither a dalit not a punjabi. i am a christan malayali. but i will not hesitate to focus on hinduism if it is casteist or islam if it is violent, or sikhism if is it is whatever. or christainity if it is all of the above. whatever the people of that religion may think it does to their religious sentiments.    

-- Anonymous Anonymous, 6/09/2005 07:43:00 pm

shivam, I am sorry I have not followed up this post and my comment - what i mean is that there is usually more than one variable at work - religious differnces- and then differences of caste within each religion - an then finally the political implications of this -
please read this aricle sometime - it is a wonderful example of caste-politics and cinema's portrayal of these - http://www.countercurrents.org/arts-anand020605.htm
anhd by the way, counter currents also has a lot of good articles on the dalit movement
(I am not including this post in this week's blog mela since it is dated ouside the range for this week)    

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