Unfair, a Documentary about How Indians Can Be Viciously Racist

Pop Culture

Unfair, a Documentary about How Indians Can Be Viciously Racist

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

India might arguably be the world’s most diverse nation, with citizens of nearly every permutation of religious, cultural, and social backgrounds all calling the country home. But despite their seemingly peaceful coexistence, there exist many fault lines along which these groups of people are divided. Of all the “isms” plaguing Indian society – communalism, sexism, casteism – colourism is one of the foremost. When even dark-skinned brown Indians face discrimination from their countrymen, it is practically a given that those with African heritage will encounter some form of prejudice. This persistent inequality is what forms the subject matter of Unfair, an Indian documentary that is currently picking up awards at film festivals around the globe.

Unfair is a collaborative work, with four people credited as the directors: Wenceslaus Mendes, Anoushka Mathews, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, and Mohit Bhalla. Mendes is a filmmaker and cinematographer, Mathews is a video producer and scriptwriter, Thakurta has worked in print, radio, and television, and Bhalla is a journalist. In Unfair, the filmmakers have examined the different forms of prejudice and discrimination relating to race and skin colour that riddle Indian society. In a note by the directors, they state, “We seek to bring under the lens ‘blackness’ in ‘brown’ spaces.” They achieved this by conducting interviews with the African diaspora in India, along with a cast of other individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The film released in 2019, and has most recently won the Best Film Award in the Human Rights category at the Africa Film for Change Festival 2020, Thakurta announced on his Twitter profile. Unfair has also won awards at a festival in Moscow, and been screened in countries as diverse as Nigeria, Denmark, USA, and Chile. The entire film is also available to watch on YouTube, and Thakurta included a link while announcing Unfair winning its latest award.

Under an hour in length, Unfair still manages to cut deep with its insights on colour in India.