Film Screenings

Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali (Tobacco Embers)

2024-04-25 14:37:50

Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali (Tobacco Embers)


March 24, 2023    
5:30 pm - 6:00 pm


Mazumdar-Shaw Auditorium, Museum of Art & Photography
22 Kasturba Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka, 560001
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Image Credits: Yugantar and Deepa Dhanraj

As part of the conference, MAP will host a screening of Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali, a film by Yugantar Film Collective from 1983 that traces the history and strike actions of the All Women Trade Union of over 3000 tobacco workers in Nipani (Karnataka). Made in collaboration with female tobacco factory workers, the film documents, re-enacts and takes forward one of the largest movements of unorganised labour of its time and context which sparked unionising processes across Karnataka and Maharashtra throughout the 1980s. Attracted by the power of these large scale strike actions provoked by women workers and following the spirit of mobilising for the left labour and the women’s movement, the Yugantar film collective embarked on their second film. The collective spent four months with the women tobacco factory workers in Nipani, listening to their accounts of exploitative working conditions, discussing strategies for unionising and concrete steps to broaden solidarities across factories for massive strike actions. Through this collaboration, the film team was able to film circumstances inside factories hitherto unrepresented in film as they followed the women workers’ leads as to what, where and how their actions should be recorded. 

Yugantar’s continuous commitment to the complexity of political friendships and how to ‘stand with’ provoked a then pioneering collaborative filmmaking practice embodied in large-scale re-enactments of protests, a voice-over as pluriverse testimony and the production of the first screen presence of working-class women on screen organising and ‘speaking to power’. This film is a powerful example of a feminist third cinema, a factory film, also called a ‘strike manual’ by current union activists.

Yugantar Film Collective

Yugantar, India’s first feminist film collective, was founded by Abha Bhaiya, Deepa Dhanraj, Meera Rao and Navroze Contractor in 1980 and made four pioneering films. These films were made during a time of radical historical transformation in the country, and for Yugantar, they were driven to contribute to the feminist movement building at the time. The four films – Molkarin (Maid Servant) (25 mins, 16mm, black-and-white, Marathi, 1981), female factory workers in Nipani for Tambaku Chaakila Oob Aali, with members of Stree Shakti Sanghatana (SSS) in Hyderabad for Idi Katha Maatramena (Is this Just a Story?) (25 mins, 16mm, black-and-white, Telugu, 1983) and lastly with members of the Chipko Andolan for Sudesha (30 mins, 16mm, colour, Hindi and Garhwali, 1983.) – fostered conversation on political trust and forms of organising.

Today we might view Yugantar’s films as living and continuously reactivated documents, as part of a continuously metabolising feminist archive that takes its place in the Now and in the future. Extensive archival material about the collective and their films are available to view on Yugantar’s website 

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