Deep analysis of the film Fandry directed by Nagraj Manjule

Fandry movie decoding

Jabya’s Dalit family lives on the outskirts of a village. They are tasked with shooing away and, at times, euthanizing pigs to prevent them from causing trouble in the village. This responsibility falls on the Dalit family because upper-caste families consider it unclean and impure. It is their means of earning a living.

Despite the circumstances, young Jabya finds himself disillusioned and falls in love with an upper-caste girl named Shalu, who also goes to his school.

The film begins with Jabya attempting to shoot a black sparrow perched on a tree using a slingshot. In the village, there is a belief that sprinkling the ashes of this bird can hypnotize someone. Jabya hopes to use this method to hypnotize Shalu, but each time he tries, the bird manages to escape.

In the film, the black sparrow carries deep symbolism, representing Jabya’s love for Shalu that is never returned. Despite his efforts, he is unable to earn her love.

In a crucial moment, a village woman likens the bird to an upper-caste Brahmin, warning that if touched, other birds would shun it from the flock. This symbolizes that even if Jabya manages to earn Shalu’s affection, the upper-caste communities would still ostracize her.

In a particular scene, he fantasizes about trapping the black sparrow, incinerating it, gathering the ashes, and then casting them onto Shalu. He envisions a magical result where she would suddenly fall deeply in love with him.

An awkward moment unfolds as Jabya prepares to request a notebook to initiate a conversation. Before he can do so, a pig charges toward the group, accidentally bumping into a girl. Shalu, noting the pig’s presence, remarks on its uncleanness. This comment leaves Jabya feeling uneasy.

There, we see the girl’s mother advising her to bathe because the pig touched her. She also mentions her plan to wash the clothes with cow urine for purification. Additionally, Shalu requests to have some cow urine sprinkled on her as well.

She cannot see him as a potential partner because her family has never been involved with pigs, and it’s unlikely that future generations would take on such responsibilities. The deeply held belief is that pigs and anyone associated with them are viewed as unclean.

In a particular scene, Jabya goes to the house of a Brahmin classmate to ask about missed homework. Yet, when the mother calls her son, she sidesteps mentioning Jabya’s name, choosing instead to refer to him as the “untouchable’s son.”

Several scenes depict every member of Jabya’s family hard at work, highlighting the difficult circumstances they face in order to survive.

The teacher presents a poem by Chokamela, a poet from the untouchable community, focusing on the issue of untouchability. However, the moment the term “untouchable” is uttered, laughter fills the classroom, mostly made up of non-Dalit students, diluting the serious message of the poem.

Opting for a different direction from the traditional caste-assigned duties, Jabya opts to sell ice cream instead. This profession is viewed as somewhat more respectable than the tasks typically assigned to his caste.

This alteration not just increases his income, but also enables him to save for purchasing jeans, with the hope of enhancing his appearance in the future and leaving an impression on Shalu.

In a different moment, Jabya is en route to sell ice cream when he comes across a shop filled with birds and fish. Parking his bicycle beside a truck, he gets absorbed in the scene. Unfortunately, as he’s lost in the moment, the truck reverses, crushing his bicycle. This not only shatters his dream of buying jeans but also plunges him into instant debt.

In a picturesque scene, the school’s boundary walls are adorned with paintings of Dr. Ambedkar, Jyotirao Phule, Savitribai Phule, Shivaji, Shahuji Maharaj, and Sant Gadge Maharaj. This creates the impression that these revered figures exist just beyond the school’s borders, enhancing the atmosphere.

During a festival, Jabya plans to display his dancing skills to impress Shalu. Nagraj Manjule supports him, holding him on his shoulders. However, the joy is fleeting. Just as he is about to make an impression, his father calls for him. In the following scene, Jabya is left holding lights while two upper-caste individuals, who regularly taunt him, purposefully dance in front of him to mock and belittle him.

The powerful climax of the film shows Jabya and his family chasing after pigs, a poignant scene that exposes the harsh realities they endure. Even his school friends, among the villagers, mockingly call him “Fandry,” highlighting the pervasive insensitivity towards caste discrimination.

Jabya’s Dalit friend seems disheartened, while the other classmates from higher castes view the scene of him and his family chasing pigs as a source of amusement.

In the pivotal moment, as Jabya hurls a stone at the camera, it embodies his frustration not just towards the Casteist bullies but also towards those who silently observe caste discrimination.

The movie underscores the stark truth that, despite their efforts, the world continues to be unyielding for Jabya and his family. Without taking a stand and battling against it, there is no savior on the horizon to free them from the enduring discrimination and constant humiliation.