The Bahujan Art Festival in Mumbai gives marginalised communities a space to raise their voices


There was agreement about the occasion’s target, however not its name. Before the Bahujan or Marginal Art Festival was held in Mumbai, numerous in the Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi people group had raised protests, said Aroh Akunth, the celebration caretaker – “They stated, ‘we are not minimal’ [because of our numbers].” Akunth’s conflict, as he clarified amid a board dialog at the celebration, was: “Indeed, you aren’t negligible, however your craft is.”

While the Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi people group have met up in the past to commend their crafts and social personalities, they have frequently not get due consideration. “All colleges call craftsmen to perform, however on the off chance that one takes a gander at most celebration lineups, the Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi people are constantly consigned to scholarly sessions on a station,” said Akunth.

It was to overcome any issues among tokenism and real acknowledgment that the Bahujan or Marginal Art Festival was hung on December 16 at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. A first-of-its-kind occasion in the city, it took forward the endeavors of surviving stages like the Begumpura Film Club at TISS – solely for the Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi understudies – and the three-day Dalit Art Festival held at the Ambedkar University in Delhi, prior this year. The point was to make a space for specialists having a place with the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Nomadic Tribes, Denotified Tribes and other underestimated minority networks, where they could “feature their voices, societies, and opposition through imaginative methods”.

‘Testing Everyday Casteism on Social Media’ – an exchange between Aroh Akunth and Divya Kandukuri.

‘Testing Everyday Casteism on Social Media’ – an exchange between Aroh Akunth and Divya Kandukuri.

“The stage was never implied for perceivability, however out of a need self-ruling occasions which oblige our very own networks in manners which other business celebrations don’t,” said Akunth, who is additionally the social secretary of the TISS understudy association. The celebration highlighted 30 craftsman activists from 10 states and included photography and workmanship presentations, board discourses, film screenings, and live exhibitions.

Stage for stories

“Access to space, mic or arrange has frequently been constrained for Bahujans,” said movie producer Jyoti Nisha. BR Ambedkar saw this amid his time, she stated, and “that is the point at which he began his own papers and magazines, for example, Janta, Bahishkrit Bharat [and] Mook Nayak, and perceived the requirement for his own satyagraha.” Nisha’s narrative B R Ambedkar: Now and afterward was screened at the celebration. For her, being a piece of the occasion resembled “returning home to our kin, knowing them through their specialty, words, and encounters in this nation”.

Different movies that were indicated included Biju Toppo’s Naachi Se Bianchi (Dance to Survive) – an honor winning biopic of Padmashri Dr Ramdayal Munda, Nagnath Kharat’s Disad Dis (Day After Day), a portion from Raghu Jamuda’s Repression Diaries and in addition Pratik Parmar’s acclaimed narrative Project Heartland. There were additionally post-screening discourses on every one of the movies.


Ek Potli Ret Ki/Kaani Nilam, a craftsman aggregate that investigates social personalities and consolidates political activity and promotion intercession to save assorted characters, curated a photography display titled Cultured Lives: A Peek into the Cultural Existence in the Margins. The photos were looks into the way of life of the underestimated as a day by day, lived encounter instead of an infrequent, performative one.

Pravin and Kishor Mhase. (Right) A work of art by Pravin Mhase.

Warli painters Pravin Mhase and Kishor Mhase were among the other welcomed craftsmen. The cousins, who took in the craftsmanship from their granddad Padmashri Jeevya Soma Mhase, are attempting to keep it alive. Their work is equipped to deal with them, when Warli workmanship is being repeated and popularized without setting, reducing it all the while. Vital people legends behind these canvases are regularly missed.

Celebrations like this, at that point, turn out to be even more vital, enabling specialists to recount their own accounts as well as those of their locale too. At TISS, the conventional society craft of the Mhases was compared with the pioneer works of Sunil Awachar, the scorching political sketch of Syamsundar Vunnamati and artistic creations by Maari Zwick-Maitreyi, each talking in enunciated quiets about the every day shameful acts in their lives.

Sunil Awachar.


Voice of opposition

The Bahujan or Marginal Art Festival had no shortage of specialists standing up noisy against position separation. Youthful enemy of standing extremist, Divya Kandukuri, whose stage of decision is internet based life, was one such enabled model.

Having dropped out of TISS on account of an “ableist heartless educational programs, the absence of comprehension about dysfunctional behaviors by the organization thus called dynamic teachers, and absence of emotionally supportive networks”, coming back to the foundation as a visitor speaker seemed to be “enabling and a type of challenge” for Kandukuri. As indicated by her, this open door would not have come her direction had this been a celebration with Savarna coordinators.

Her perspectives are reverberated by Akunth. “Our understudies frequently are first, second era students and face financial, semantic, social boundaries separated from shame and the savagery that standing carries with it,” he said. “All colleges are exclusionary, and upper-standing ruled spaces as we have come to know them.” But TISS as the scene for the celebration seemed well and good sense “colleges are likewise expected to hold thoughts together, regardless of whether they are oppositional in nature – this celebration is a piece of that oppositional practice”.

Kandukuri’s images on her Instagram and Twitter accounts are notable, just like her blunt analysis of casteism. Her activism, however, is accidental. “Carrying on with this life, making due in itself… is activism, testing the Brahminical structures, for us,” she said. “I am simply presenting things that occur on all of our day [and] around us, in less difficult terms under the hashtag EverydayCasteism. This was begun by a Ph.D. understudy, Riya Singh. Also, we took it forward by transforming it into a crusade.”

Other self-assured voices incorporated those of artist Dhiren Borisa and rapper Sumeet Samos. The two were occupied with a concise board dialog, titled Verses of Resistance, amid which they talked on the imaginative difficulties that are special to their networks, and after that exhibited theirs wrote pieces.

Samos’ tunes – in English, Hindi, and Odiya – were ground-breaking reflections on segregation by the upper positions, however more vitally, about discovering one’s very own salvation. Drawing motivation from universal artists like Tupac Shakur, the 26-year-old Samos raps about SC/ST understudies, Savarna abuse, Ambedkar-Phule belief system, manual rummaging, position separation and abominations on Dalits, in addition to other things. Rapping is his decision of medium due to its more prominent intrigue among the present-day youth, and the tremendous degree it offers for verbalization of issues on minimization.

Stages like the Bahujan Art Festival, Samos says, are essential for “uniting craftsmen from minimized areas in a typical space and building a solid feeling of the network among us”. At a certain point, when he sang “maang ke thak gaye, stomach muscle sab kuch lenge cheen ke” (Tired of asking, we will presently grab everything), the tension in the group of onlookers was substantial.


Another entertainer who energized the TISS quadrangle with her quality was Kadubai Kharat. An online networking sensation, this artist from Aurangabad is best known for her tunes about Ambedkar. Her effortlessness, signature do-tara and finish dedication to Ambedkar are reminiscent of the Bhakti holy people of Maharashtra, who set points of reference hundreds of years prior on the most proficient method to recover nobility in the public eye. Also, much like those progressive holy person artists, Kadubai and her peers are meeting up to voice their obstruction through workmanship.

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