Diversity film training programme launched for the Dalit Bahujan and Adivasi community

Niharika Singh, managing director of Future East Film

Niharika Singh, managing director of Future East Film  

The initiative is by Mumbai-based Future East Film, and will continue through the year with candidates interviewed every three months

A three month paid-internship programme in film direction and production targeted specifically at the Dalit Bahujan and Adivasi (DBA) community from across India is getting launched by Mumbai-based Future East Film. The Diversity Film Training (DFT) programme will continue through the year with the candidates interviewed every three months. The selected individuals will get the opportunity to be a part of research, development, production, post production and other aspects of filmmaking and get to work with and be mentored by some of the finest directors and producers working in filmmaking and advertising.

“My experiences in the Hindi film industry made me question the idea of Bollywood, celebrity culture and the role of savarna culture-makers,” says managing director of Future East Film Niharika Singh, who noticed that there weren’t many DBA voices in the business when she started working as an actor over 20 years ago. On a sabbatical from acting she started getting engaged with different kinds of cinema, reading Ambedkar and anti-caste literature. The idea of DFT came about after discussions with producer Hemang Chheda and director and founder of the company Ashim Ahluwalia, also the director of critically-acclaimed films like Miss Lovely and Daddy.

How to apply
  • The applicant needs to be a graduate, belong to the DBA community and love cinema. They need to write in to and if they seem appropriately inclined, they’ll be called in for an interview. The interns will be paid a stipend of Rs 8000 per month for the duration of the internshipand will have a potential full time job opportunity at Future East after the internship period is over. “They will also get the right guidance, relying on our experience in every area of the changing media landscape,” says Niharika Singh.

Ms Singh wouldn’t call DFT a philanthropic initiative, more a necessary one. “We believe that all voices need to be heard on an equal platform,” she says. So DFT aims to correct the imbalance, the under representation of DBA community in filmmaking. “How many actors, filmmakers, producers, DOPs (director of photography) from DBA communities can you name in this largest film producing country in the world?” asks Ms Singh rhetorically.

For her, art cannot have boundaries and the film industry has managed to be relatively more diverse compared to other industries. “Women, LGBTQ, Muslims, Parsis have all found great success here. The Marathi and Tamil film industries have seen Dalit success stories. And yet, the films, the politics in the films and the way most of the film industries run is still brahminical, dynastic and not very inclusive,” she stresses. According to her, in all the film industries in India, content, cast, crew, finance and distribution is led by savarna groups.

“It’s common knowledge that 75 percent of India’s population is DBA and yet people holding office or positions of power in every industry are mostly savarna… Empowerment of DBA communities will not occur if representation turns into a headcount exercise. Representation must extend to decision making roles and resource allocation,” she says.

People from DBA communities are not only competent enough to tell their own stories but also have their own perspective on society which is barely represented or acknowledged in popular media. Says Ms Singh, “If opportunities are given, we can assume an influx of fascinating new ideas in cinema, literature, art and culture of the Indian sub-continent. Also possibly a pathway to a relatively more equal and just society.”

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 4:50:37 AM |

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