Today was the first day of the first ever Goan People’s Film Festival. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and wondered if it would be a series of drab documentaries.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The opening film, India Untouched: Stories of a People apart hit me right between the eyes. It is 105 minutes long, and was subtitled for most of its length, as it was shot all over India, in vernacular languages, but it held the viewer’s interest right through.  It had a gripping, intelligently thought-out narrative, which needed no narrator (as someone in the audience pointed out after the film); the people in the documentary themselves provided this. Full marks to Stalin K for his courage, patience and brilliance in putting this compelling footage together.

It is films like these that should be sent on to film festivals, both in India & abroad. Just earlier in the day, I had gone through the list of films that were due to be shown at IFFI. Impressive as the line-up is, none of the fare is remotely as relevant to the Indian situation, or has its finger on the nation’s pulse, half as much as this one.

The film is a scathing indictment of the gross injustice faced by Dalits through the millennia, through to today, when we talk of being the world’s next superpower. Some boast, when something like 260 million of our compatriots suffer a fate worse than the galley or plantation slaves of yore, daily in our villages, towns, and even metropolitan cities. It is merely a question of degree.

Watch this clip: