{ working title }

Un-Fair {a documentary film}

an interconnectedness concerning skin, colour, race and caste in India


skin is foremost in gathering, processing and assimilating knowledge for the body. All forms and acts of prejudice and discrimination arising from biases of skin – are events of violence that deconstruct the body and the processes of knowledge making that discontinues learning, evolution and growth


In India we as a society conflate prejudices and discriminations concerning skin, color, race and caste – despite denial from the state on various platforms. These frequently erupt into acts and events of personal and public mob violence across the country that lead to public humiliation, shame and torture. Across the last year (August, 2015 to the present) we have been researching and independently documenting around the issues of skin, colour, race and caste within the Indian context.

Through this process we engage in dialogue with the African diaspora here in India. In supplementing this discourse, we converse with various people of Indian origin – the various processes in everyday life that construct images, thoughts and ideas, which one associates with the concerns of skin, color and race. We further trace the sharing and intermingling of culture, arts and music between the African continent and the Indian subcontinent since 4C BCE (recorded history) through the ‘Siddhi’ community, and follow their migration through India from modern-day Gujarat to Hyderabad.

This introduces us to students, parents, teachers, architects, models, musicians, dancers, artists, footballers and academicians from the African continent, here in India. Conversations on camera discuss various histories, social practices and cultures, individual politics and respective economic concerns. Our intent is to intervene and make visible, learnings from interactions between the different and divergent cultures that emerge.

In doing so, we scrutinize the construct of beauty and its practices in Indian society and dissemination through various media. We examine rites, rituals and ceremonies that propagate certain norms, highlight the differences and the acts of violence that emerge through personal prejudices and societal discriminations, and its relationship with caste politics here in India. Augmenting these propositions are interviews with journalists, researchers and academicians, cinematographers and photographers, media, advertising and industry practitioners across the country.

While we highlight the socio-cultural aspects of ‘race theory’ we examine its construct and further in relation to the constructed ‘biological body’. We discuss with dermatologists how the body, skin and its color emerge through epidemiology, ecology, environment and climate. We meet genetic scientists who share their knowledge through anthropological surveys of the ‘Siddhi’ community and the Andaman Islands. They discuss their findings about the origins of man, dispelling race myths and proposing a probable history that dates back to 60,000 years.

As color is frequency so also is sound. Does the color of who speaks make a difference in meaning generation, interpretations and value judgments? What happens when frequency signals interchange between color and sound? – Seeing sound and hearing color, the film thereby creates an immersive and sensorial experience. Further, our aural histories are also body rhythms made manifest through music and speech. From “tribal” percussions to jazz, anti-apartheid songs, ‘Bollywood’ – ‘Nollywood’ and noise art – the exchange and sharing of knowledge that the African and the Indian sub-continent have with each other.

Via the background score and aural narratives, we also bring together various archival material (text, image, audio and video), live recordings and music contributions from artists, bringing to the fore issues concerning skin, color and race.

Today, as we witness an increased spate of violence based on racial prejudices and discriminations across the country as well as at a global scale. We believe there is an urgent need to reveal and dispel popular myths, racial stereotypes and public justifications for ‘other’ dialogues and conversations to emerge.

wency.mendes@gmail.com


 

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stories from: Skin | Colour | Race | Caste – Made in India

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