Private Project

The Last Man

There are about 1 million 'Scavengers' in India who are unwillingly engaged into the hell like practice of manually cleaning sewers and manholes just to stay alive.

Manual scavenging is a term used in India for the manual removal of untreated human excreta from sewers, bucket toilets or pit latrines by hand with buckets and shovels. In complete Violation of basic human rights and dignity. Incredibly they belong to one specific community now known as the Valmikis who have been engaged in this occupation for hundreds of years. India has succeeded in sending its mission to the Mars with technological and engineering advancements, but India’s caste-based social system has failed to stop sending human beings into the pit full of muck, poisonous gases and infectious diseases.

‘The Last Man’ aims to show the ground reality through everyday life of manual scavengers engaged in different types of manual scavenging, endangering and losing their lives in cleaning the choked sewers, and manholes.

Manual scavengers are struggling hard to find alternative ways to earn their daily bread because of India’s caste system based on social hierarchy, insensitivity of the state and policymakers and loopholes in the judicial system that do not allow many to break out of the vicious cycle of manual scavenging. Despite laws and National Commissions set up by the government, the lives of manual scavengers have not changed much.

The unresponsiveness of the state, apathy of law enforcement agencies and flawed judicial processes are only a reflection of the societal disregard towards the people, who keep it clean – literally at the cost of their lives.

This type of insidious discrimination emanates from the notion of purity, pollution and untouchability, deeply rooted into the mindset of upholders of caste in the Country.
The film is an attempt to put all the logical, practical, intellectual, technological, political and social debates happening around the issue of manual scavenging to kindle empathy towards the unsung, unknown superheroes and their lives, whilst being treated as sub-humans. It highlights the complex social fabric of manual scavengers’ lives, which are intertwined with the issues like willingness to leave the occupation but lack of opportunities for alternative employment, lack of education, social discrimination, and very low self-confidence laden with social stigma.

The film aims to continue the quest for a just solution to end not only the practice of manual scavenging, but the social stigma that has been branded on the souls of these communities by treating them as subhuman for thousands of years of the Indian caste system.

  • Dakxinumar Bajrange (Charra)
    Sameer, Toiletwale, Birth 1871, Sundarana, Broken Gods
  • Naveen Judah
    Blame Game
  • DR Manisha Maganji
    Blame Game
  • Sameer Maganji
    Blame Game
  • Dakxinkumar Bajrange
    Sameer, Bullet, Birth 1871, Sundarana, Blame Game
  • Paras Jha
  • Anshul Agrawal
  • Mohar Mukund Mate
  • Debashish Kumar
  • Prashant Dhumal
    Sound Recordist
  • Pransanjit Das
    Sound Recordist
  • Annu Poojari
    Sound Designer
  • Pankaj Rishi Kumar
  • Pankaj Awasthi
    Background Score
  • Paras Jha
  • Ankita Jain
    Assistant Directors
  • Keyur Bajrange
    Assistant Directors
  • Kushal Batunge
    Assistant Directors
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 2, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    30,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Gujarati, Hindi
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Changing The Story International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    June 5, 2020
    Invited Screening
  • Vikalp Online Film Festival
    October 23, 2020
    Invited Screening
  • Studio City International Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    October 1, 2020
  • London Lift-Off Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    December 1, 2020
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Indo Global International Film Festival
    November 5, 2020
    Mumbai Premiere
    Official Selection
  • 7th Art International Film Festival
    December 10, 2021
    Trivendrum Premiere
    Award of Merit
  • Association of Asian Studies Film Expo
    Ann Arbor
    United States
    March 1, 2021
    Ann Arbor Premiere
    Official Selection
  • International Documentary Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK))
    December 11, 2021
    India Premiere
    2nd Best Documentary Award
Director Biography - Dakxinumar Bajrange (Charra)

Dakxinkumar Bajrange (Chhara) is an award winning filmmaker, playwright and an activist from the Chhara De-notified Tribes of Ahmedabad in the western part of India. He is a recipient of Ford Foundation International Fellowship (2010-11) to study Graduate studies in ‘Theatre and Global Development’ at the University of Leeds, UK. His book ‘Budhan Bolta Hai’ (Budhan Speaks) awarded first prize for "Mahatma Gandhi Best Creative Writing on Human Rights" by National Human rights Commission (NHRC) for 2010-11. He is also a recipient of 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 an “Artistic Director” at Budhan Theatre (, he is also a founding director of Nomad Movies Pvt Ltd. He has written and Directed 13 plays and Supervised 48 Theatre Productions of Budhan Theatre and performed more than 1000 shows in different parts of India. He was nominated for "Heroes of Ahmedabad" by Ahmedabad Mirror. As a Filmmaker, he directed 94 fiction and non-fiction films/TV series on various developmental, social and political issues of India He has recently directed his debuted critically acclaimed Bollywood film "Sameer", starring Zeeshan Mohammed, Seema Biswas, Anjali Patil. Sameer was released in theatres in India on 8th Sept 2017 and also screened in New York Indian Film Festival (USA), Charlotte Asian Film Festival (USA) and Indian International Film Festival of Queensland, Australia where he received "Best Director" award for 'Sameer".

His academic and journalistic articles on Theatre and Films appeared in number of national and international journals/newspapers.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I belong to the one of the De-notified tribe called Chharas in the western part of the India. Chharas are known as "Born Criminals" due to colonial stigma because of "Criminals Tribe Act of 1871". Even after 149 years of creating this act by the British and 70 years to repeal this unconstitutional act by independent India, we are still facing “Born Criminal” Stigma by the system and society. As a DNT, I also face socio-political oppression, police atrocities and social exclusion is day to affairs. My community is victim of history and such victimization is continuing. To counter with this historical stigma I used Theatre Art to express our anguish, aspirations and problems. Since 20 years I have been active in community theatre production, trained more then 300 youth in Theatre and now they are doing socio-political issues of oppressed communities in the country. I emerged as DNT activist and in the social movements I have seen many oppressed people who are harassed by the society and system and one of the communities is “Valimiki” community who, traditionally, are imposed to do different kind of manual scavenging. No human can work such foul-smell areas, forcing to the particular community to do such jobs is sheer violation of human rights, it's a blot on the democratic constitution that guarantees DIGNITY of its citizens.

What makes India different from rest the world is not only its great culture and emergence as one of the strong economies, but also the paradoxes, which are found in the India society and its progress. While India can take pride in sending its Mission to Mars at the per kilometer cost of a cup of tea, she has not been able to stop her citizens entering into the manhole full of human excreta from cleaning.

This paradox doesn’t only show the failure of using available technology to eradicate the subhuman practice of manual scavenging, but also discrimination based on the caste hierarchy in the Indian society. Social apathy towards the manual scavengers has been deeply rooted in the majority of Indian subconscious minds. It has nullified the legal provisions, government schemes, political will and administrative acumen furbished for the eradication of the practice of manual scavenging. As a result of such situation a well-educated person belonging to manual scavenging community has not been able to come out of such inhuman practice, just to maintain their livelihoods.

While India’s being shown to the world as a strong nation of more than 1.3 billion people with decisive leadership, the other side of this pink picture also needs to be shown to the world. I have taken up the task to show the dark and melancholic but unseen real other side of the picture. In this film I have narrated the lives of the manual scavengers endangering their lives for cleaning the chocked gutters and sewage holes to earn the bread for their families. Despite the act for the eradication of manual scavenging enacted in 2013 by the parliament of India, even today nearly a million people are still engaged in manual scavenging and hundreds are dying in the gutter every year.

I have travelled through number of Indian states for the film to show that manual scavenging practice has not been limited to the states governed by any political party with specific ideology, but it is a widespread social ill. In my opinion, official definition of manual scavenging in India is incomplete. There are few more inhuman practices happens at grassroots like dragging dead animals and burning dead bodies in the name of religious myths are also manual scavenging because those are socially imposed practices and extremely bad for health.

The film depicts how the generation old caste system has made the communities of manual scavengers believe that they are only good for such murky work and it is their fate. While many have tried to come out of the practice of manual scavenging through getting proper education, they faced discrimination and apathy from the society, which pushed them back to the manual scavenging.

Due to belonging to the stigmatized caste whatever socio-political oppression I have faced in my life similar kind of oppression I can see happening with Valmiki community people and as a filmmaker it is my duty to bring out those horror stories to let world aware that how certain strata of the society are bound to do such work who are socially unacceptable and untouchable and living the life like subhuman.