Budhan Podcast: Telling our COVID stories

A courageous and talented group of artists from India’s so-called ‘criminal tribes’ stepped out during the COVID-19 pandemic to document the stories of their communities, which have remained invisible from national and international reporting. They produced a series of video-podcasts in indigenous languages spreading information about health and rights, documenting their experiences, and providing entertainment through songs, dance and theatre in a time of crisis. This film will take you through the histories and arts of people living at the perilous margins of Indian society, and explore how they are dealing with the impact of the pandemic.

  • Dakxinkumar Bajrange
    Sameer, Toiletwale, Birth 1871, Sundarana, Broken Gods
  • Alice Tilche
    Sundarana, Broken Gods
  • Bhasha Research and Publication Centre
  • Anish Chhara
    Background Music
  • Anish Chhara
  • Dakxinkumar Bajrange
    Sound Design
  • Chetna Chhara
    Sound Recordist
  • Ruchika Chhara
    Sound Recordist
  • Siddharth Chhara
    Sound Recordist
  • Keyur Chhara
  • Akshay Khanna
    Project Consultant
  • School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, Global Challenges Research Fund
    Funded by
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Social, Art, Health
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 26, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Being Human Festival
    United Kingdom
    November 15, 2021
Director Biography - Dakxinkumar Bajrange

Dakxinkumar Bajrange is an award-winning filmmaker, playwright, director and activist from the Chhara De-notified Tribe of Ahmedabad, in western India. He received the Ford Foundation International Fellowship (2010-11) to study Theatre and Global Development at the University of Leeds, UK. His book ‘Budhan Bolta Hai’ (Budhan Speaks) was awarded the first prize for "Mahatma Gandhi Best Creative Writing on Human rights" by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2010-11. He is a recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Arts Fellowship (2004-05) and Bhasha Fellowship (2002-03) to study art forms of nomadic and de-notified communities in Gujarat. Currently, he works as the Artistic Director at Budhan Theatre, a community theatre group of the Chhara de-notified tribe of Gujarat. He is also the founding director of Nomad Movies Pvt. Ltd, which provides production and post-production facilities to make fiction and non-fiction films.
As a filmmaker, he has directed 70 fiction and non-fiction films on various development and political issues in India. His films are widely screened in film festivals and universities in India and abroad. He is the winner of the South Asia documentary film award Jeevika (2005) for his film ‘Fight for Survival’. His film on De-notified Tribes of India entitled ‘Birth 1871’, was screened at 11 universities in the USA and Canada and in 5 universities across the UK. From 2008 to 2010, he worked as an associate director with renowned documentary filmmaker Rakesh Sharma on three films around the political issues of Gujarat - Chet’ta Rejo, Khedu Mora Re, Kesariyo Kono.
He has written and directed 11 plays and supervised 46 theatre productions of Budhan Theatre and performed in more than 700 shows in different parts of India. He has conducted a number of theatre workshops for community development in marginalised communities, schools, colleges and institutions, trained more than 300 actors and founded a number of theatre groups. He coordinated and organised Gujarat’s biggest community theatre festival called Ahmedabad Theatre Festival (ATF) in 2012.
Mr. Bajrange is the author of two books, ‘Budhan Bolta Hai’ (2010) published in Hindi and the play ‘Budhan’, published in Hindi and English by Bhasha Research and Publication Centre. ‘Budhan Bolta Hai’ (Budhan Speaks) was also published in Marathi by Ranade Publication, Pune. His academic publications have appeared in Antipode: A Journal of Radical Geography, Liffey Press Ireland, Seminar India, Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Penguin India, Malayalam Manorama, Budhan Newsletter and Padmagandha Publication. He has presented papers in many reputed national and international conferences in India, USA, UK, Canada and has given talks on theatre and films in the United Nations in 2007.

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Director Statement

The ongoing pandemic has several stories and screams from marginalised communities and those stories of suffering have to be told to the world. When the entire world was under lockdown, some brave souls decided to use technology and record some of these stories. They used the limited resources they had effectively, and tried their best to produce a catharsis for the people of their community.

This short film is by the Budhan Theatre, comprised of members from a stigmatised community who still reel under the colonial stigma of being called "born criminals". During COVID times, such community documentation is an important initiative to record the memoirs and moments for future generations. Budhan Theatre has proved that its actors are not merely actors, they are community leaders who used theatre and film arts for the betterment of the society.