Ranjan Kamath and Padmavati Rao made Fishers of Men, a documentary on the adivasis of the Chota Nagpur plateau in eastern India, in 1996.
The film speaks of the tribal population of the region caught in the crosswinds of Christian missionaries on one hand, offering them the prospects of education and conversion, and of Hindu revivalist groups such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on the other, trying to reabsorb them back into their fold.
As Fishers of Men was screened recently, Kamath reflected on why it makes sense to revisit the film.
For over a century, a substantial number of Adivasis, or tribals of the Chottanagpur plateau, have been converting to Christianity in order to free themselves from bonded labour and feudal oppression still prevalent in rural India.
A combination of education and Christianity have helped the Adivasis establish an alternative identity outside the Hindu caste system, undermining feudal and Hindu authority. While the demand for a tribal homeland called Jharkand has been gaining momentum from a number of sources since independence, Hindu fundamentalist organisations such as the Rashitriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have held the Christian missionaries singularly responsible for encouraging the Jharkhand movement.
In the absence of dialogue between Hindu revivalists and Christian tribals, this feature length documentary represents an effort to understand how the two communities will co-exist within a secular Indian fabric.
To see the movie please click the link :
FISHERS OF MEN – (Abridged Version) 1996 / DV – VHS Print