This documnetary portrays the economic and psychological transformation of a group of Dalit (outcaste) drummers from Tamil Nadu, South India. In their village they have to negotiate caste discrimination, which constructs them as polluted because they play for funerals, and because the drum is considered impure. As they professionalize, they reconstruct their performance as "music" and their identity as "worldly." When they are invited to participate in the Chennai Sangamam folk festival, their reception by urban audiences further transforms their self-understanding. Can they sustain these changes back in the village? Woven throughout are rare images of folk performances along with interviews of musicians and local activists who speak of working for the liberation of the oppressed in India through engaging the folk arts.
Filmmaker Zoe Sherinian is Associate Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology at the University of Oklahoma. She made this film as a Fulbright senior research scholar studying the changing status of untouchable drummers in the village ritual context as well as the use of folk arts in the Dalit liberation movement. Her book, Tamil Folk Music as Dalit Liberation Theology (2012), was published by Indiana University Press. Prof. Sherinian has studied Indian music since the 1980s. She is a mrdangam (South Indian concert drum) player and a jazz drummer.
Part of a series of lectures & films, “Caste, Religion, & Dalif Liberation in India.”
For full series: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/relstud/events.html. Click under “Fall 2012 Lecture Series, Thursdays…”
For further info: email@example.com
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC