Good Sports: THESIS OF A YOUNG FILMMAKER
Some of the best films allow us to experience situations we wouldn’t otherwise experience, give us temporary passage into lives we wouldn’t otherwise enter. That’s what Shilpi Shikha Agrawal, a final-year MFA student at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, hopes to do with her 15-minute thesis film (Out)caste.
The film shows the plight of Dalit women who work as manual scavengers, cleaning dry toilets for a living. When a woman named Dasi in Rajasthan is unable to perform her duties due to dehydration, her teen daughter, Amrita, is forced to take over and the cycle of compliance to the social hierarchy continues.
Agrawal, who was born in India and grew up in Texas, was inspired to create the film partly through her experiences and observations in India, and partly through reading books such as B. R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste.
“I wanted to bring to the screen a character that I became obsessed with and one that seems to always have her story buried and forgotten,” Agrawal says in her director’s statement.
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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