Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir! is set in a ghetto in Western India. It’s about Budhan Theatre, a group of young Chhara Tribals who are considered “born criminals.” In 2003 Dakxin, a director and playwright, was arrested on false charges. We were concerned because the Chharas face are regularly brutalized by the Police. The documentary evolved from that initiative. Dakxin and his friend Roxy became our guides into why the Chhara are so reviled. They told us how the Chhara were notified as “born criminals” by the British colonial government in 1871, and how entire families were incarcerated in “soft” concentration camps. The British are long gone but their legacy remains in the shape of social discrimination and prejudice. There is however, a ray of hope in the form of Budhan Theatre, which works to bring about change in this beleaguered community.
P. Kerim Friedman, Ph.D., Director/Producer/Camera has studied and taught ethnographic film and photography since 1993. Currently, he is assistant professor of Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. He divides his time between Taiwan and India. ‘Please Don’t Beat Me, Sir!’ is his second documentary and first feature.
Shashwati Talukdar, Director/Producer, began working in film and television as an assistant editor for a TV show by Michael Moore (1999). Since then she has worked on projects for HBO, BBC, Lifetime, Sundance and Cablevision. In 2001, she produced a documentary on Mahasweta Devi, an eminent writer and activist, who is revered by the Chhara community. Her films have screened at venues including the Margaret Mead Festival, Berlin and the Whitney Biennial.