Caste in / and Film

Judith Misrahi-Barak's picture
Call for Publications
October 31, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Film and Film History, Asian History / Studies

Caste in / and Film

Call for contributions to an edited volume of critical essays to be submitted to Routledge


This call for contributions on Caste in / and Film is extended to October 31, 2019

Many proposals have already been received and are still being examined. However there are gaps in the regions and languages covered. We are hoping for more proposals that would deal specifically with films coming from, and dealing with, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Bhojpuri region, Central India, and the North-Eastern states of India.

If the short proposal is accepted, the deadline to submit the full articles will still be April 30, 2020.

This volume of collected critical essays will be submitted to Routledge as a companion to Dalit Literatures in India (co-edited by Joshil K. Abraham and Judith Misrahi-Barak, Routledge 2016; 2ndedition with new introduction, 2018) and to Dalit Text: Aesthetics and Politics Reimagined (co-edited by Judith Misrahi-Barak, Nicole Thiara and K. Satyanarayana, Routledge 2019).

Caste has remained one of the most important factors in understanding the complexities of Indian society. Yet there has not been many movies that deal openly with caste. The list of movies that come to mind as referring to caste directly is somewhat short considering film is such a deeply shaping element of Indian culture. These include Frantz Osten’s Achut Kanya(1936) and Jeevhan Prabhat (1937), Bimal Roy’s Sujata(1959), Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1974), Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen (1994), Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati (1981), Ashutosh Gowariker’sLagaan(2001) andSwadesh(2004), Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan(2011), Gurvinder Singh’s Anhe Ghore Da Daan(2012), Jayan K. Cherian’s Papillio Buddha (2013), Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi The Mountain Man(2015), Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (2014), Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court (2015), Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry(2014) and Sairat(2016), Vidhu Vincent’s Manhole(2016), Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala(2018), Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal(2018), Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15(2019).


The notion that the list is short comes from the idea that caste only belongs to some, particularly those who are considered lower in the caste ladder. Hence Achut Kanya(1936) has been considered as a movie on caste but not Abhinav Kashyap’s Dabangg(2010). Achut Kanyarepresenting the story of an ‘untouchable’ makes it a movie that discusses caste. But Dabangg has not qualified as a movie on caste even though it is about Chulbul Pandey, a Brahmin.This distinction is not unique to the Bollywood cinema but cuts across other regional cinemas too, in different languages. An example would be that of the first movie from Malayalam film Industry J. C. Daniel

Contact Info: 

Joshil K. Abraham, GB Pant College, Delhi, India

Judith Misrahi-Barak, University Paul-Valery Montpellier 3, France

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