Unit 5 Destination Reflection - India

Please watch these two brief film excerpts. The first is the trailer from the classic documentary Bombay Our City by director Anand Patwardhan. Patwardhan’s films explore a variety of social themes in modern India. His 1985 film about Bombay looked in particular at the effects of slum clearance policies on the city’s poor. The film viscerally depicts the fear of forced eviction among working people in Bombay in the 1980s and that many people continue to face today in India’s mega-metropolises:

(Here is an English translation of the lyrics of the song heard in this film clip):

Listen to our story
Hear the story of the working people
Brothers! Sisters!
With our own hands have we
Plowed and seeded the Land.
We have made the Earth bear fruit;
Yet while our sweat runs,
The landlord grows richer.


Forget all casts and all creeds
Join together in the great family of workers
With this combined fortitude
We will abolish all false regimes.
Come, let us invoke this power
To put an end to our suffering.
When will this come to pass?
When the working people hold sway.
But until that day comes,
We have to eat; we have to drink.

The second clip is taken from another of Patwardhan’s films, Jai Bhim Comrade (2011). It shows part of a performance by Kabir Kala Manch, which is a political theater troupe based in the state of Maharashtra that works against caste and religious discrimination, economic injustice, gender inequality, and more.

  • What most struck you in these two short videos?
  • What, if anything, seemed familiar to you about Sheetal Sathe’s remarks on the subject of gender inequality? Were there places in which you could connect your own experiences to her words?
  • One of the women in the first film clip says, “Do not take photos of the poor.” What is your understanding of her words? Do you see connections between her statement and the themes of this unit on “Bearing Witness”?


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