Chamar community

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Bombay’s Cinema and its cultural biases

Caste, gender and religious biases are a norm in Bambai cinema. Of course, there was a time when cinema sophistry was due to the beauty of Urdu language as Yusuf Khan, Naushad, Sahir, Kaifi Azami, Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Gulam Mohammad, Mehboob, Kamal Amrohi, and so many others were part of it. Even the non-Muslims used to speak Urdu and the script was Urdu. I am sure, Raj Kapoor, Devananda, Dharmendra, Manoj Kumar, Ashok Kumar all had known Urdu language and were comfortable with it. So, in that way, it was a Hindustani Cinema or Urdu language cinema. The Hindi Cinema, as it is called today, has more contribution from the non-Hindi speaking people. Whether it is Lata Mangeshkar or her sisters, Mohammad Rafi, Sachin Dev Barman, Salil Chaudhury, Hemant Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Yeshu Das, S P Bala Subramanyam, and others, Hindi was not their first language but they enriched this. The greatest of all was Shailendra whose poetry touched our heart as it came from his own experiences of life. And who was Shailendra and why has he been so spiritual and why was his poetry so inspiring. Our left friends suggested that he was a worker in the railway and that he remained a ‘communist’. But none tried to put ‘Pandit’ Shailendra before his name. Shailendra’s caste remained unknown. Was it deliberate not to know about it or the cinema wanted to let it remain as usual? What would have happened if Shailendra had declared his caste identity in a cinema where hero always come from a ‘poor’ brahmin families ‘economically poor’ and fight for the have nots. Yes, this question itself was answered by Dinesh Shankar Shailendra about a year back when we discussed things. Though it does not matter but it matters a lot too. He said, his father belongs to Chamar community but then probably was fearful in those days, his ‘acceptance’ would be affected if he reveals it. This is a dirty fact otherwise why efforts were not made by our researchers to know more about him. There are definitely good films…