Landless is a debut documentary film by Randeep Maddoke on the issues faced by Dalits of India in their daily life, caste-based discrimination in numerous ways being one them. It follows the story of the victims of such atrocities like the social boycott,
communal attacks by Jatts (upper caste) in the Indian state of Punjab. The project visits the recent uproars in the state on the issues of land.
Longer Synopsis of Landless Landless:
Explores the caste and class dynamics in Punjab, a north-western state of India. The Indian society is known for its hierarchical caste system. According to the Hindu faith, society is divided into four Varnas; Brahmins, Kshataryas, Vaishayas and Shudras and further there’s a group of people who don’t belong to any of these Varnas, called Avarnas (Untouchables). They are looked upon as sub-humans, and are given the jobs considered vile and disrespectful in a society, for example, manual scavenging. They had no right to education, to enter the religious spaces, and they were not allowed to use the same public spaces as Varnas. The documentary talks about Punjab, where the caste-dynamics is different from the rest of the India due to the establishment of Sikh religion in this state in the mid 1500s. The Sikh religion had no space for caste-discrimination in theory, the Gurus preached egalitarianism across all the classes and caste groups, and sought for upliftment of the classes and groups marginalised by Hinduism. This attracted the disregarded groups to Sikhism. Post-independence, when India got its own constitution and established itself as a democratic and secular country, it outlined the equal rights for all the classes and special reservations for the marginal sections of Indian society. In the late 1950s, new land reforms happened. These reforms abolished the Zamindari system (feudal land holding practices). In Punjab, Jatt community who was working under Zamindaars (feudal lords) till then got their own land to work on, after the reforms. The Avarnas didn’t get any land, they remained landless. The ‘Jatt’ community was fourth Varna (Shudras) in Hindu society. In the 60s, green revolution was introduced in Punjab. The new land-owning class benefited the most from it and prospered. With the financial sources in hand, this class took over the religious and political structure of Punjab, and they became the new oppressors and the upper caste subsequently, in PunjabiSikh society. Long brought religious and social reforms by Sikhism couldn’t stand the changes brought by the land reforms and broke down. The new class and caste-based hierarchical order surged back up. The ages old, lower and higher caste aspect came back in play, and in Punjab it was, and still is, measured by if one owns the land or not. Landless talks about this conflict between these two communities of Punjab. According to the constitutional laws, marginal communities have 30% reserved share in the common land (agricultural and public use) of a village. When the Dalits (Avarnas) demand their share of land or the lawful minimum wage from the landowner, conflict arises in between the two classes and becomes a caste conflict. Jatts (landowning upper caste) declare social boycott for Dalits to dodge the legal wage payment and the share of land they deserve. In which their water supply, electricity supply, grocery, use of the grounds to defecate are banned. The conflicts also end up in violent attacks and communal killing of Dalits. Instead of providing them justice, the state, which is dominated by Jatts, ends up being a mere spectator.

  • Randeep Maddoke
  • Randeep Maddoke
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  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Randeep Maddoke

Randeep Maddoke is a Punjab based concept photographer and documentary filmmaker, born and raised in the village Maddoke, Moga (Punjab). Randeep, an activist turned photographer, is known for his focus on the pains of the marginalised sections of society which are constantly subject to a systematic social exclusion.
He completed his studies from Government College of Arts, Chandigarh with specialization in Graphics (Printmaking). He documented the class struggle of Dalits in Punjab, Haryana, and Tamilnadu to study the practice and effects of caste. In 2008 he went to Nepal to document the making of the democratic Republic out of the monarchical Nepal.[4] Their too he located the threads of casteism and the resistance thereof. He made a documentary film Landless about caste based discrimination, communal violence in Punjab.
Early life
Randeep has grown up in a Dalit Landless family of village Maddoke, in Moga district of Punjab, where he started drawing and sending these artworks to the literary and art festivals organized by radical left groups. Here he got appreciation and encouragement that drove him to work more into the art field. As an activist Randeep traveled by bicycle from village to village to organize meetings on agricultural labor and farmers’ rights. He also joined a theatre group. He could only study up to class 12 due to poor financial conditions of his family. Having quit the further studies in 2004, he did what most of the boys with similar family backgrounds did -working as an agriculture laborer, daily wager in town or as a wall-painter in house construction.
Education and Work
Despite the struggle to earn a living he kept on looking for avenues to express through art. Over a period of time, Randeep found an advertisement in a newspaper about Government College of Arts, Chandigarh. At the age of thirty and an eight years into union activism, he decided to appear in the entrance examination and eventually he got admission in this institution. To continue his studies in this college he sold a part of the land from his family property. Thus he began his study in BFA with Graphic Print course from the given options and he chose photography as an additional subject, to practice photography he borrowed a camera from an activist friend. Spent four years in this institute finally, he graduated from the college. During this, he realised that his main interest was in photography. So he decided to go ahead with photography as a profession as well as a way to express his ideas. He got a job as Photojournalist in Haryana Review (under Public Relations & Information Department, State Government of Haryana), Chandigarh (April 2008 to April 2014). In 2010 Randeep made a short documentary film ‘Meri Pehchan’ produced by Directorate of Census Operations, Government of Haryana, (18 minutes).

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Director Statement

Basically I am a photographer, and turned to documentary filmmaker, that I found film is a more democratic medium, to reach wider audience to demonstrate our concerns.
Randeep Maddoke