Stills from the movie, through which filmmaker Somnath hopes to tell a positive history of Dalits

BENGALURU: The battle of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra where the British defeated the Peshwas in 1818 holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Mahars of that state.
According to history books, a Maratha force of 25,000 soldiers was defeated by a British offense that comprised of only 500 Mahar soldiers from the then Mahar regiment.

The battle is therefore not just representative of a physical defeat of the Marathas but a victory over upper caste tyranny and oppression. “Years on lakhs of people congregate at Bhima Koregaon to celebrate this victory every New Year,” says Somnath Waghamare, a filmmaker from Maharashtra who has just made a documentary on the significance of this battle. ‘The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey’ is set to be released and screened on April 14 in the city at the Alternative Law Forum.

Positive History
Somnath says that his main aim is to tell this “positive history” of the Dalits to the whole world especially since people, in general, know so little about this particular event.”It is a great source of inspiration to the entire Indian Dalit movement,” says this sociology and media studies graduate from Sangli.
He says that he does not care about his own recognition or even making money out of the film. The aim is to put this piece of history out there for the people to understand its significance. “I am not making this film for any film festivals or to make money. I will be happy to screen the movie wherever I go and for whoever requests such as universities, colleges, societies, and NGOs or any place where the people can arrange for its screening,” he says.

A number of academic institutions such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad Central University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and a few IIT students have already got in touch with Somnath for the film’s screening. “It is mostly the Ambedkarite students and groups of these institutes who have called me,” he says.

Shooting for the film took place for six months in Pune, Kolhapur, Mumbai and of course Koregoan. Most of the movie’s post production was done in Bengaluru. The film also features interviews with Dalit personalities such as historian Prof Sachin Garud, journalist Mridula Chair, students and former veterans of the Mahar regiment.
This is Somnath’s second movie. He made a documentary on the phenomenon of witch hunting called ‘I Am Not A witch” chronicling the story of a tribal woman from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, who was charged with being a witch.