Phantom India: On the Fringes of Indian Society
1969, France, Louis Malle, 52 min.
The 1969 documentary Phantom India is Louis Malle’s seven-part portrait of India. It serves as an investigation into the country’s sociopolitical landscape, traditions, and people, as well as a furthering Malle’s self-discovery as a non-fiction filmmaker.
This sixth episode charts the subcultural behaviors and customs of numerous Indian minority groups. It begins with an illustration of tribal culture: Malle spends an extended period of time with the Bandos, a bellicose and semi-barbaric mountainous tribe that inhabits around 100 villages in the region of Orissa and teeters on the verge of extinction due to their near complete assimilation into mainstream Indian society.
Following an trip to the Bando market, Malle shows more westernized subcultures in Indian society, including Indian Christians, Indian Jews, and an anomalous religious group run by Sri Aurobindo and administered by a figure known only as "The Mother”.
Post-screening discussion with Ravi Kalia.
About the Speaker
Ravi Kalia is a Professor of History at The City College New York/CUNY, and Board Member of AAARI (CUNY). A graduate of the University of Delhi (BA Hons., MA) and University of California-Los Angeles (MBA, PhD), Prof. Kalia specializes in South Asian studies, with a focus on urban-architectural history in colonial and post-colonial India, as well as in conflicts, militancy and international wars in the region. He is the recipient of three Fulbright scholarships and numerous other research awards. He has contributed articles to journals and newspapers and authored several books, most recently Pakistan: From the Rhetoric of Democracy to the Rise of Militancy (2011). His Pakistan Labyrinths will be released later this spring by Rout-ledge.