Imagining the Dalit in Indian Sport Films: A Case of Sarpatta Parambarai and Jhund

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2022)
Title: Imagining the Dalit in Indian Sport Films: A Case of Sarpatta Parambarai and Jhund
Stream: Sports, Media & Globalisation
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Sadhna Kumari, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India


Sports films in the Indian context are related to the idea of nations, nationalism, and identity were upholding the national identity and respect becomes the most significant part of the film. In this process, the marginal identities which are supposed to be a part of the nation and narrative are subsumed in front of the image and respect of the nation. What’s left behind is the identity of an Indian which mostly consists of upper castes imagined to be poor and Dalits are othered in building the idea of a nation. The classic example of this is from the Hindi film Chak De India! (2007) where the protagonist Kabir Khan punishes women players for introducing their identity with their regional marginal identity of being a tribal or Dalit and not as an Indian first. Indian sports films are now witnessing a shift where Dalit filmmakers are producing stories about Dalit-Bahujan characters who are asserting their identity and challenging their marginalization through sports. In this context, this paper will deconstruct two-sport films, Sarpatta Parambarai (2021), and Jhund (2022) both directed by Dalit filmmakers who use cinematic aesthetics to assert the stories of the characters belonging to marginalized sections of society, mainly Dalits. They use sport as a medium of assertion and challenging discrimination in society inflicted upon them. These two Indian sports films go beyond the rhetoric of nation, nationalism and poverty portrayed in Bollywood sports films rather these films use sport as an assertion in society.

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