India 1981, 52 mins
Director: Satyajit Ray

Made for national television in Hindi, Premchand’s searing story about caste exploitation in rural India resulted in Ray’s bleakest film. Low caste untouchable Dukhi is ordered by an upper caste Brahmin priest to cut trees in the scorching midday sun. Om Puri and Smita Patil deliver powerful performances as the poor villagers.

Deliverance was made for television, but then so was Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog, with which it shares the same moral force. An untouchable peasant (Om Puri, heartbreaking) is ruthlessly exploited by the local Brahmin, forced to perform hours of hard labour at the height of summer in exchange for a routine favour required by India’s caste system. But it’s after things go disastrously wrong and the Brahmin moves into full-on cover-up mode that the film’s underlying anger becomes clear. Ray avoids making any overt political statements, but these would merely say what is already obvious: the insult to an entire social class conveyed by the Brahmin’s final ‘cleansing’ gesture is like a sledgehammer to the teeth.
Michael Brooke, Sight & Sound, November 2010

Director: Satyajit Ray
Production Companies: Doordarshan, Government of India Films Division
Producers: Balai Auddy, Trailokya Das, Tej Bahadur
Production Controller: Anil Chowdhury
Production Manager: Bhanu Ghose
Assistant Directors: Ramesh Sen, Santi Chatterji
Screenplay: Satyajit Ray
Dialogue: Satyajit Ray, Amrit Rai
Based on the story by: Prem Chand
Director of Photography: Soumendu Roy
Assistant Photographers: Purnendu Bose, Anil Ghosh, Dilip Bannerji, Mohan Rana
Stills Photography: Nemai Ghosh, Sandip Ray
Editor: Dulal Dutta
Assistant Editor: Kashinath Bose
Art Director: Asok Bose
Wardrobe: Haru Das
Make-up: Ananta Das
Music: Satyajit Ray
Music Recording: Sushanta Bannerji
Mixing: Mangesh Desai
Sound: Amulya Das
Assistant Sound: Gokul Pandey
Dubbing: Kuldip Sood

Om Puri (Dukhi Chamar)
Smita Patil (Jhuria, Dukhi’s wife)
Richa Mishra (Dhania, Dukhi’s daughter)
Mohan Agashe (Ghashiram, the Brahmin)
Gita Siddarth (Lakshmi, Ghashiram’s wife)
Bhaialal Hedao (the gond)

India 1981
52 mins

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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