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'Saheb: The Man Who Became a Movement'-- Support the making of this Documentary

 

Round Table India

Saheb is considered to be an extension of Babasaheb Ambedkar in post-independence India. Such was his influence on Indian society, and especially the political arena, that Prof Kancha Ilaiah referred to him as representing a 'paradigm shift'. Ilaiah says:

'He made the Bahujans (not just SCs but SCs, STs and OBCs) a collective social and political force that need not look back. Whether some people agree or not in my view, after Buddha, Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar he will be the tallest socio-political reformer of India.'

kya gazab aadmi

Chandra Bhan Prasad sums up his unique contribution to Indian society: 'He overturned Brahminism upside down... In less than two decades, Kanshi Ram made UP Dalits walk with their heads high.'

Manyawar Kanshi Ram has been widely accepted by the Scheduled Castes as well as Other Backward Castes and marginalised religious minorities - by people who were scattered and didn't share a common political culture that bound them together, especially when he was alive. But that didn't deter his spirits or his indomitable purpose: in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and his own birthplace Punjab, across India everywhere, he could manage to spread his transformative message and politics. Not just that, Saheb could rope in different castes across categories and show them all their larger stake in opposing savarna hegemony, which he used to lucidly illustrate through the device of his pen-cap analogy.

He had invested his whole life in thought, planning, strategising and experimenting to bring forward the agenda of Bahujan politics. Despite various hurdles, he never gave up, and his legacy seems not to fade away either. Instead, it seems to keep growing persistently and penetrate more corners of the country, with each passing year. 

How can one bring alive such a gigantic phenomenon, the man who became such a huge, subcontinent-wide movement?  

To Gurinder Azad, a documentary film seemed a small effort in that direction.

The documentary shall focus on recreating the spirit of his movement by engaging with the events and people associated with him. Fortunately, many activists and leaders who worked with him since the beginning are still with us. Gurinder Azad, the filmmaker has been interacting with many of them over the last couple of years. He has also been researching the contours of Saheb's work in various regions, through books, videos, and other material.

Saheb's life journey brings forward many questions. The foremost example is – why could Kanshi Ram Saheb's caravan not proceed the way Saheb wanted, especially when lots of friends who have worked with Saheb, day and night, are still around? The film shall explore the following issues, questions: 

1. The concept of social transformation that Saheb always articulated.
2. The concept of Bahujans that Saheb envisioned.
3. Importance of clear-cut delineation of Bahujan autonomy.
4. How could Saheb struggle against the tremendous intensity and variety of challenges? Meaning, what stuff does it take to make a Kanshi Ram?
5. What are the lessons from Saheb's movement for future endeavours?

So the documentary shall not be a regular biopic, it aims to go beyond that.

Gurinder Azad has been an activist, published poet, and writer (in Hindi, Punjabi and English), filmmaker (since the making of the 'Death Of Merit' documentaries) for over two decades. He has been researching, travelling and conceptualising this film for many years. In the last one year, he has been putting together a design for the film, fleshing out details and plans, and also shooting, intermittently. He has invested his own time and resources in this process. Now the substantive production part of the film is scheduled to begin.

There is not much need to emphasize the importance of recording, documenting Bahujan struggles, especially on film. The need to re-animate the life and career of such an epochal figure as Manyawar Kanshi Ram is the need of the hour, in a way. 

Please support this cause. The film needs around 3.5 lakh rupees to be completed. Around Rs. 1.5 lakhs have already been assured by a couple of Bahujan friends. We urge all those who seriously believe in Bahujan emancipation to come forward and send their contributions to:

Gurinder Singh Azad
Axis Bank
Saving Account # 915010023018381
Sahni House, 26/5
East Patel Nagar
Delhi - 110008
IFSC Code: UTIB0001006

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