Watch: Battle of Bhima Koregaon: An Unending Journey
A documentary by Somnath Waghmare
January 9, 2018
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani released in December 2015 to packed theatres. The movie, for the most part, glorified the Peshwa rule and completely left out the deeply discriminatory caste practices of the Peshwas. In response, Somnath Waghmare decided to make a documentary on the historic Bhima Koregaon battle.
On 1 January 1818, a small company of the British East India company, comprising primarily of Mahars, defeated a 28,000 strong army of Baji Rao II, comprising mostly of Peshwas and Brahmins. The battle became an inconic moment in history because of the Mahars' victory over the Peshwas. The Mahars, under the Peshwa rule, had long been oppressed, grossly mistreated, and made to suffer numerous indignities. Following the victory, the British East India Company commisioned the construction of a victory tower in Koregaon to commemorate those who had fought the Peshwas. On 1 January 1927, Babasaheb Ambedkar visited the memorial tower and hailed it as a historic site, referring to the Peshwa defeat as the defeat of Brahminism. Every year since then, Ambedkarites commemorate the battle on the first day of every year. However, the celebrations are hardly ever, if at all, covered by the mainstream media.
Somnath Waghmare, in order to fill this gap in the media, and also to bring to light the atrocities that the Mahars suffered under the Peshwa rule, decided to make a documentary on the celebration and the history behind it. ICF spoke to Waghmare over the phone. "This is the only existing documentation of the event", he said.
Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.