'Sabitha, A woman and a Day ' and Questions About the Position of the Filmmaker

Rupesh Kumar

sab2

As a documentary film maker, while working on Dalit stories and narratives, I have been completely in sync with the film, both as a participant and as a chronicler. In this article I want to note down some of my personal dilemmas while making my latest documentary - Sabitha, A woman and a Day. This film is about an Adivasi woman and both the categories of woman and Adivasi presented me with challenges that I had never anticipated.

sab10The first issue that we faced during the making of Sabitha, A woman and a Day was about our own position as the 'creators' of this documentary. We were faced with many questions regarding this. First of all, the viewing and documenting of an Adivasi woman's life felt like an act of indulgence. More importantly, the political questions that we faced as Dalit men were entirely different from the socio-physical and cultural problems faced by an Adivasi woman. If so, how do we know how and where to place our camera? How do we gaze at the life of this woman? How do we interfere in her life?

sab_1

We tried to face this challenge by taking a conscious effort to face and accept ourselves as Dalit men, with all our 'ignorances' and 'differences'. So we minimized our interference in this video and attempted to just go on a kind of journey with Sabitha. With this we thought that we could create an Adivasi visual text by presenting the Adivasi woman's identity through visuals. This was in spite of the fact that we as the 'authors' of the video had visualized many of the scenes. However, we tried to identity with her life by spending a lot of time with her and being part of her daily routine. With this we thought we would at least reduce the 'distance' between us, if not the 'difference'.

sab14Thus, in many ways, Sabitha, A woman and a Day is an interrogation of our Dalit male dominance and Dalit male gaze even as we are trying to visualize an Adivasi feminist's life, though we feel we have not been very successful. In fact, we still believe that it will be a totally different, powerful and new movement when an Adivasi woman shoots her own life with the power of the camera and visuals.

Through out this documentary, we tried to render the power of this Adivasi woman by not interfering and defining her life with our narrations. So we gave more prominence for our visuals and kept shooting what she did. Thus this documentary became a journey with lots of unexpected deeds by Sabitha and we moved without any pre-planned script. This was also a hard 'physical' journey with this Adivasi woman, as she was so quick and agile in her movements, while we struggled to keep up with her and cope with the hot sun, the hills and the forest.

sab11We decided to shoot the maximum shots of her power and we tried more of low-angle, close-up and medium shots. During editing, we selected those angles and shots which were related to nature and the Adivasi's powerful way of life, their sociability and their different cultural practices. In the interviews, we concentrated on what Sabitha had to say providing strength and support to others in her community. We were trying to break the historical rendering of the 'pathetic Adivasi' as propagated by the established mainstream media. Thus we captured her talk about how robust and vigorous her life was and all that was possible to her as an Adivasi woman. We also understood that the savarna political powers keep away from all sorts of such developments. She also criticized the savarna feminist movement which couldn't address the Adivasi issues.

For some of the interviews she just climbed on a tree and the water tank and we kept following her using low angles for this and medium-low angles for interviews. For her movement, journey, her daily routines, we were also trying to find a philosophy and a politics of power by an Adivasi woman and her rhythmic connection to nature. For instance, when she said : "sooo cool water", we felt that this was an Adivasi woman's rhythmic connection with nature, placed in between her physical struggle to collect wood for her daily life. This we knew was different from the 'elite feminist tourists saying 'so cool". And we were lucky to get some natural expressions of Sabitha instead of depending on just interviews to show her politics as a woman.

sab5Before we planned this video, our primary aim was to break the stereotypical 'gaze' of the established savarnaized TV channels, documentaries and other videos on Adivasis. We planned to be both together and also detached from Sabitha. We just wanted to create different versions without the show of their 'troubles', 'pathetic life' etc, with 'melancholic music' as it is often done.

In our filming we could bring out how she would show and define and talk about the politics of her kitchen with power. We could see this clearly when she said, 'working in kitchen, I don't think it's a bad thing' it's the part of my daily political life.' She also introduced us to her aunt who is leading a feminist Adivasi political life with economic freedom and looking after her family and community too.

sab15To avoid all 'melancholic' tones we just tried to use the natural environmental spot sounds of documentary as background. The camera man Mr. Jeslin and Co-director Robin with our team- Aadhil Ahammed, Navas, Shan Mohd Shan and Shyam Krishnan- did a great job with their continuous physical struggle for four days for the completion of the documentary and in shooting and editing. We would also like to thank Remya Vallathol for her support in the production of the documentary.

The Dalit male gaze on Adivasi woman, defining Adivasi woman power, 'rendering' power to Adivasi woman as a Dalit male-- are some of the questions we would like to raise internally as Dalit male film makers on this documentary for more political future narratives.

sab13

~~

Trailer of 'Sabitha, A Woman and a Day'

~~

Please watch Part 1 and Part 2 of 'Sabitha, A woman and a Day'.

~~~ 

Rupesh Kumar is a documentary film maker, read his articles here


Other Related Articles

"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF. In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide... Read More...
भविष्य की दलित-बहुजन राजनीति: जाति से वर्ण और वर्ण से धर्म की राजनीति की ओर
Thursday, 16 March 2017
  Sanjay Jothe उत्तर प्रदेश के चुनाव परिणाम जितने बीजेपी के लिए महत्वपूर्ण हैं... Read More...
Brahminical Patriarchy and Social Media
Friday, 27 January 2017
 Bhagyesha Kurane Social media has become an integral part of our lives these days. There are various notions prevalent about whether one should use social media, and if at all it is to be used,... Read More...
ब्राम्हणी पितृसत्ता आणि सोशल मीडिया
Thursday, 26 January 2017
  Bhagyesha Kurane सोशल मीडिया हा आपल्या जीवनाचा सध्या एक अविभाज्य घटक झालेला आहे.... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

The Janeyu in My News Story
Thursday, 01 December 2016
  Rahi Gaikwad Years ago, while studying journalism, a remark made by a foreign national classmate during a class discussion on caste has stuck in my mind till date. From what I remember, she... Read More...
Hatred in the belly: Interrogating Internalised Prejudices and Supremacy
Sunday, 04 December 2016
  Kavita Bhanot [Excerpts from the talks given at SOAS and Manchester launch of Hatred in the belly: The politics behind the appropriation of Dr Ambedkar's writings] For some years now, I've... Read More...
Decoding the Spirit of Castes: A review of Pokala Lakshmi Narasu’s ‘A Study of Caste’
Tuesday, 01 November 2016
  Nidhin Shobhana This book review can be divided into three sections. The first part would briefly try to situate the book and the author in the social and political contexts of Colonial South... Read More...
Post-Truth Politics and Dalit Question
Thursday, 22 December 2016
  Vinod Kumar The world is moving in a new direction in its political spectrum. Most of the old, developed democracies have come under the influence of the right wing forces with populist images... Read More...
Tribute to Tipu Mahathma
Sunday, 13 November 2016
  Prof B.P Mahesh Guru Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan were indeed the great rulers of Southern India. They performed their best efforts for the expansion, consolidation and development of the state... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more