We Have Not Come Here To Die by Deepa Dhanraj
October 29 2021 – November 7 2021
As part of SAVAC’s ongoing efforts to highlight the struggles of marginalized peoples across South Asia, we are excited to co-present a screening of We Have Not Come Here To Die by Deepa Dhanraj with Rendezvous with Madness film festival this year. As persecutions of Dalit communities, who are part of the lowest tier in India’s caste system, continue to fester, our intention with this program is to highlight the intersections of mental health with race, caste, and class. We know the links are there, but they are intentionally obscured and buried by the structures that oppress these communities.
We Have Not Come Here To Die powerfully chronicles how a Dalit student and activitist is driven to suicide after years of harrasment and discrimination by both his university administration and right-wing Hindu supremacists. What transpired after was a moment of solidarity across the country, uniting mothers, student activists, and numerous marginalized groups. To this day, this movement is strong, and both actions and discourse to fight against these discriminations continue. The tensions between race and caste among India’s many ethno/religious communities have also been felt heavily in Canada, as Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) groups continue to mobilize here in the diaspora. By screening this film, we hope to add nuance and urgency to the conversations around caste in Canada, in light of the rise of Hindu supremacy on this side of the ocean.
Q&A Event — The Q&A will be presented after the screening of the film with the director of We Have Not Come Here to Die, Deepa Dhanraj and the director of As I Want, Samaher Alqadi. Conversation moderated by Aisha Jamal.
Film Synopsis: Rohith Vemula, a Dalit Ph.D research scholar and activist at University of Hyderabad who was persecuted by the university administration and Hindu supremacists, died of suicide on January 17, 2016. His suicide note, which argued against the “value of a man being reduced to his immediate identity” galvanized student politics and solidarity movements. The ensuing outrage gave rise to protests across India, calling the neglectful treatment and systemic oppression faced by Dalit people into question, and encouraging solidarity with minority groups facing similar discrimination from Hindu nationalists, students, administration and aligned governing authorities.
Deepa Dhanraj is a writer and award-winning filmmaker based in Bangalore, South India. She has been actively involved with the women’s movement, with a focus on political participation, health, and education, since 1980. Deepa has taught video to women activists from South-East Asia and regularly lectures on media theory in both academic and public settings across India. She was one of the lead researchers on a multi-centered research study, ‘Minority Women Negotiating Citizenship’. Deepa is also the founder of Bangalore-based filmmaking collective Yugantar, an organisation that produced films about women’s labour and domestic conditions in Southern India. In addition to her extensive work on women’s rights, her activism also extends to issues related to education, particularly problems faced by children who are first generation learners.