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Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar Documentary Film Promo

Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar Documentary Film Promo



Somnath Waghmare


Title of the film – Gail and Bharat

Direction and Camera – Somnath Waghmare

Editor- Deepu (Pardeep KP)

Promo Editor – Shreemith N



Watch the film’s promo here: {youtube}t1CPxb8J8qk{/youtube}


For years, the mainstream media and academia in India have completely overlooked the struggles and agency of the Dalit-Bahujan people. Without the work of a few activists and intellectuals, their telling of these stories would have been absolute. Dr.Gail Omvedt and Dr. Bharat Patankar are two prominent Anti Caste activist-intellectuals who have spent their lives working against these Brahminical structures.


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, on Dalit-Bahujan politics, and on women’s movements in India. She has been involved in Dalit-Bahujan and anti-caste movements, as well as environmental and farmer movements. She has also worked closely with women in rural India.


Dr. Bharat Patankar is a prominent activist and is married to Dr. Gail Omvedt. He is the co-founder and president of the Shramik Mukti Dal, a mass-based organisation fighting for the rights of farmers and Dalit-Bahujans. He is also one of the leaders of Maharashtra’s peasant movement.  


The first time Gail Omvedt visited India in 1963-64, it had not even been ten years since the death of Babasaheb Ambedkar. The next time she came was in 1970-71, as a PhD scholar at Berkeley University, to do the field work for her dissertation, “Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahman Movement in Western India”.

While conducting her research, Gail travelled to Kasegaon in Sangli to visit the freedom fighter and Bahujan activist, Indumati ‘Indutai’ Patankar. Indutai’s son Bharat was studying to be a gynecologist in Mumbai and was considering giving up the profession to work instead on social issues.

The two met and discovered how much of their ideals and dreams they shared. One day Bharat proposed to Gail at Dadar beach in Mumbai. Since then, they have not looked back.

Gail Omvedt’s contribution to academic and intellectual literature on the Dalit-Bahujan anti-caste movement has been immense. Following in the footsteps of her mentor Eleanor Zelliot, she has published numerous books, essays, and pamphlets on these subjects. She has taught sociology at Pune University and was a senior fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in Delhi.

Bharat Patankar has been no less active. As a founder of the Shramik Mukti Dal, a socio-political activist group that brings together the ideology of Karl Marx, Jotiba Phule, and Babasaheb Ambedkar, he has been involved in numerous movements, particularly for water and land rights. Notably, he coordinated India’s first crowdfunded dam, the Baliraja Dam in Sangli district.

Gail became an Indian citizen in 1983 and stays with Bharat in Kasegaon, which they use as a base to continue their extensive work for the rights of Dalits and other marginalised people. Despite her ailing health, Gail remains active, attending rallies and programmes with Bharat’s support.

This documentary biopic follows the course of Dr. Gail Omvedt’s remarkable journey to India, how she met her future husband Bharat Patankar and became one of the most revered and recognised activists and researchers of the movements of Dalit-Bahujan, the environment, farmers, and women, particularly in western Maharashtra. The biopic also explores the life of her husband, Bharat Patankar, the co-founder of the Shramik Mukti Dal, who has been working in and leading numerous peasant, environmental and anti-caste movements for the last 40 years.


Through interviews and personal testimonials “Gail and Bharat: The Story of Organic Intellectuals” captures the incredible lives of these “organic intellectuals” at their home in a small village in Maharashtra.


This film is their story.




Somanth Waghmare is a filmmaker, watch his documentary The Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey here