‘Chamm’ brings Dalit community’s struggle alive on silver screen

CHANDIGARH – The struggle of the Dalits to get their right has reached the international podium as a Punjabi feature film on land struggle of Dalits got entry into the Cannes Film Festival.



Amritsar, February 13: While raising issues of Dalit community with his independent film ‘Chamm’, director Rajiv Kumar of ‘Nabar’ fame has once again managed to prove that quality Punjabi cinema will find audience. Holding special screenings of his film across major cities in Punjab, Rajiv’s ‘Chamm’ received rousing response from the intelligentsia in Amritsar as it was screened at Virsa Vihar.

‘Chamm’, meaning chamdi (skin), is based on a short story by writer Bhagwant Rasulpuri. It presents the story of a Dalit protagonist, who works at the local village slaughter house and skins dead animals.“The film is a novel experiment to reach out to audience instead of waiting for them to come to cinema halls. Made independently, the film is a joint collaboration between a group of theatre artistes and my close friends.

Chamm (skin) is about the struggle of Dalits of Punjab, who are struggling to get their one-third share in the village common land. The 35-minute film will be screened in “2017 Short Film Corner” at the Cannes between May 22 and 28.

It doesn’t show characters in black and white, but has different layers. Like a young village girl, who is a doctor and stands besides the community in their struggle against atrocities and some local villagers, who belong to upper castes and support Dalits in their demand for equal position in society.”Apart from the plight of the Dalit community, the film also talks about drug abuse and the economical struggle of the rural folk.

Rajeev, director of the film, said: “It is an independent and self-funded film which is about inner defeat and victory.”

He said they had developed an alternative distribution system for the film by screening it free of cost in villages and small towns.

Rajeev, who hails from Mullanpur and now based in Mumbai, started his career as a filmmaker in 1994 with a documentary “Aapna Pash”, which was based on the life of revolutionary poet Pash.

Earlier, his film “Nabar” won the National Award in 2012 in the best Punjabi feature film category. National award winning actor Baljinder Kaur also features in the film.

Struggle of rural landless Dalits to reclaim one-third share in the village common land is going on for almost nine years in around 70 villages of Sangrur and Mansa.