Nagraj Manjule could never find an image that matched his own life or that of the people of his community in all the Bollywood films he watched. That was when he decided to make his own film.

“It is really my own story,” says this director of his film in Marathi entitled Fandry, which has won the award instituted by the India chapter of the International Federation of Film Critics at the ongoing Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFes).

Another world

“The Bollywood films I watched never even had people with names that sounded anything like those of the people around me. I could never connect to those films,” says Mr. Manjula, who hails from a small village in Solapur. Fandry (which literally means pig) centres around the attraction of a Dalit teenage boy towards an “upper” caste girl in a Maharashtra village. Through this narrative it offers a searing comment on the continuing system of caste hierarchy.

Mr. Manjule says that he did a master’s degree in mass communication with the explicit purpose of making a film on his community and its concerns. His earlier short film Pistulya, which is about the struggle of Dalit communities to get educated, won several awards. Fandry is Mr. Manjule’s first feature film which will be released in Maharashtra in February.

‘Authentic’

The jury of the Federation say that the film was chosen for “a stark and authentic portrayal of deep rooted prejudices and the inhuman oppression of the marginalized in caste dominated rural India.” At a function organized to give away the award, Deputy Artistic Director of the festival, N. Vidyashankar said that the film emphasizes the point that equality is a “non-negotiable value.”

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