Sidharth Srinivasan | India | 2010 | 98’ | Hindi spoken, English subtitles
Pairon Talle (Soul of Sand) is not just an attack on the India Shining myth, it is an attack of unprecedented savagery. India lives in several centuries at the same time. Alongside the economic boom and landscape of glass and chrome towers, director Sidharth Srinivasan exposes its dark underbelly of primitive, feudal impulses. A man driving a fancy car and sporting shades, will slit his daughter’s lover’s throat without hesitation, simply because he is of the wrong caste. The Taliban are within us, not just wherever the Americans are pretending to look.
The caste system is so entrenched in the psyche of the low caste Bhanu Kumar, that he loyally guards his master’s abandoned silica mine, seemingly unaware that his master is raping his own wife. One night, he shelters a couple who has eloped, terrified that they will be victims of an honour killing, and sets in motion a chain of bloody events leading to its tragic climax.
Like Arvind Adiga’s Booker Prize-winning book The White Tiger, Pairon Talle examines contemporary Indian society from the viewpoint of the low caste man, the slave, at the bottom, with unsparing honesty and cynicism. This Hubert Bals Fund-supported film was selected by Global Film Initiative for North American distribution.