The Backward Class

The students of Shanti Bhavan residential school in Bangalore, India, imagine a future that defies their “untouchable” caste. Ostracized and oppressed by virtue of birth alone, the young men and women of Shanti Bhavan’s Grade 12 class intend to break a cycle entrenched for generations by becoming the first Dalit students in India’s history to undertake the national Indian School Certificate exams. After 13 years of preparation, the students nervously focus on exam day. As pressure mounts, confidence wavers. Inflation has made it difficult to attract good teachers and questions arise as to whether or not the class is ready for the exam challenge. Some students crack under the weight of parental expectations, while others fear bad luck will forever seal their fate. With their futures hanging in the balance, the students look to one another for support in this powerful testimonial from those who refuse to be silenced. [Synopsis courtesy of Hot Docs]