Groups across campus come together to celebrate Indian history

"Mangal Pandey: The Rising" was shown during the Politics of Indian Hisory Film Festival. The movie is based on the life of an Indian soldier, Mangal Pandey, who played a crucial role in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. Photo by Jeff Li.

“Mangal Pandey: The Rising” was shown during the Politics of Indian Hisory Film Festival. The movie is based on the life of an Indian soldier, Mangal Pandey, who played a crucial role in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. Photo by Jeff Li.

by Cassidy Hilburn 
hilburnc@grinnell.edu

The History and Religious Studies departments, the South Asian Student Organization (SASO), the Alternate Language Study Option (ALSO) and the Institute for Global Engagement sponsored the Politics of Indian History Film Festival earlier this week.

The concept for the film festival came from a multitude of organizations on campus taking initiative to create a space where the community can come together and celebrate Indian history. Two student-led organizations, SASO and ALSO, were involved in the organization and structure of the event.

“We were highlighting Indian political history movies. One goes back to the Sepoy Rebellion set in the 1800s,” said Dhruv Gupta ’17. “The second is a modern romance film about a man who learns a lot about Gandhi in order to impress a girl, and then begins to see Gandhi everywhere and get advice from Gandhi on day-to-day things. Then, the last is a romance film [about a relationship] between an Indian and Pakistani.”

Despite some logistical difficulties, the festival was successful and furthered the goals of the various organizations that sponsored it. Karnika Arora ’18, a two-year participant and leader of the ALSO program, sees such programming as a powerful tool in advancing the verbal and cultural immersion their organization works to provide.

According to Arora, this is not the first Indian film event on campus.

“The year before last we had a Hindi film festival,” Arora said. “We had films in various languages … and then had snacks from that target culture. For example, we watched a movie in Hindi and had Indian snacks and Chai, that kind of thing. We really try and focus a lot on cultural immersion, and these events can help a lot with that.”

There were some challenges that threatened the event, organizers explained. The three films were hosted in Harris Cinema, and were initially supposed to be accompanied by Indian snacks. Unfortunately, due to conflicts with Catering, the festival was unable to procure samosas for the event.

Attendance was also a point of difficulty in the organization of this event. On top of the rigorous academics and extra-curricular engagement students face, some saw the times of the film festival, 6:30 p.m., as a potential deterrent to getting a larger crowd, especially when trying to draw in athletes with conflicting practice schedules.

Despite the difficulties faced in the organization of the event, the organizers were understanding of the turnout. Altogether, they are excited to create more events that celebrate the different cultures and identities present on Grinnell’s campus.