I am Somnath Waghamare, a documentary filmmaker and a research scholar at the School of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Before this, I have worked at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
I am associated with the anti-caste, progressive and social movement in Maharashtra. I am interested in making documentary films on caste and gender issues. I have already made two documentary films. My first film was “I am not a witch”, on the problem of witch-hunting in Maharashtra. It is the story of an old tribal woman from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, who was accused of being a witch and faced social boycott.
My second film is “The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey”, on the great history of the Dalit community and of the so-called untouchable Mahar Regiment who fought and defeated the crony Brahmanical rule of the Peshwas in the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818. Despite the importance of the battle, Brahminical historians and the media ignored its history for decades. When violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon in January this year, the battle came into public debate for the first time. At that time, my film became an important source for people to understand the battle’s history.
The film has been screened at different institutions across India, including FTII in Pune, Amnesty International India, Alternative Law Forum, St Joseph College in Bangalore. TISS, IIT Bombay, Conflictorium Museum in Ahmedabad, Dalit Women Speak Out Conference at Savitribai Phule Pune University. The film is now available on Youtube.
For the last three months, I have been working on a documentary biopic on the life journey and work of Dr. Gail Omvedt, an anti-caste activist, and sociologist, and of Dr. Bharat Patankar, a mass leader in Maharashtra. The name of this film will be ‘Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar: The Story of Organic Intellectuals’.
Dr. Gail Omvedt is an American-born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist. She is a prolific writer and has published numerous invaluable books and research papers on the anti-caste movement, Dalit-Bahujan politics, and women’s struggles in India. She has been involved in Dalit-Bahujan and anti-caste movements, environmental, farmers and women’s movements, and has worked closely with rural women.
Dr. Bharat Patankar is a leading activist and husband of Dr. Gail Omvedt. He is co-founder and president of the Shramik Mukti Dal, a mass-based organisation fighting for the rights of farmers and Dalit-Bahujans and a leader of the peasant movement in Maharashtra. Dr. Bharat Patankar is an activist-intellectual who has worked for almost 40 years in movements of workers, farmers, dam evictees, agricultural laborers, the drought eradication movement, alternative cultural movement, women’s liberation movement, anti-SEZ and coal-based power plant movement based on alternative energy proposals, rights of farmers on windmills, and anti-caste movements.
Dr. Omvedt and Dr. Patankar live in a village in western Maharashtra. For the last three months, I have traveled with them to public meetings, protest rallies, and conferences. I have already interviewed them and other mass leaders, professors, research students, activists, and village people. The film will avoid academic jargon, but will instead be structured around their life story together in the background of the larger political movements around them. Given the lack of serious documentation of anti-caste struggles, this film will be an important resource that will preserve their life work for scholars and activists of social movements in years to come.
I was able to make ‘The Battle of Bhima Koregaon’ only with the help of generous crowdfunding and community support. My team and I are now working on the pre-production of the new film, ‘Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar: The Story of Organic Intellectuals’, and are looking for monetary support. So far, I have spent my own money for the shoot. The tentative cost of pre-production and post-production is Rs 3 lakh. I do not have funding from corporates or the government. Without any caste and class privileges, making this film on my own will be very difficult. We hope to get support from the community and like-minded people for the film. This will cover travel expenses, fees for my team and expenses on pre- and post-production.
I plan to work on this project for one year. After it is completed, I hope to send it to film festivals in India and abroad and also screen it at universities, institutions and community spaces in India.
I request you all to please contribute to this project.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Numbers – 07887721714, 7745886950
Bank Account details
Name of the account holder –
State Bank of Patiala (State bank of India),
FTII Branch Pune,
Account No – 55147141640,
Watch ‘The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey’ film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDw43hJf_IY&t=1750s