The story of a bonded laborer who is forced to steal Bonded until Death for his landlord.

Year of Realease: 1984

Cast: Manohar Singh, Annu Kapoor, Sreela Mazumdar, Deepti Naval, Pyare Mohan Sahay

Synopsis: When the oppression of the landlord becomes diabolically throttling and the bonded labourer begins to die of suffocation. He cries out in anguish - "WHAT MORE CAN HE DO ....... HANG ME ON "DAMUL"?

In the Ganges belt of Bihar, there exists the system of PANHA which means, in literal terms, shelter and protection. The landlords trap the potential bonded labourers into some planted petty crimes. As prearranged, when the police arrives looking for the criminal, they are sheltered and then protection is offered from the impending threat of being arrested. The poor labourer, already bonded neck deep with the generation of loans and the ever mounting interest, is left with no option but to do wht the landlord asks him - steal for him and pay back the loan. Farmers in this part, invest their harvest into land and cattles - and cattle lifting has been a flourishing trade organised in real mafia style.

The landlord compels his bonded subjects to steal cattles and deposit them to his agents. After a couple of days the agent informs the owner to come and collect his cattle by paying a certain arbitrarily fixed amount of money. This amount is called PHIRAUTI. So, if the phirauti is agreed upon by the owner he takes his cattle back - if he is unable to pay, the cattle are sold in the open market and if there is a dispute over this amount, a small panchayat consisting of a few local mafia chiefs is called to do justice. Their verdict is final and binding: The man whose cattle have been stolen pays the expenses of the panchayat.

Everybody knows about the big landlords who are involved in this but nobody dares to take their wrath by informing the police. As it is, the police in these parts is hardly effective.

PANHA forms the threadline of DAMUL - which goes deeper into several contemporary related developments like - caste conflicts - atrocities on Harijans - labour problems and worst of a11 - political pollution of the society at the grassroot level.


1. Golden Lotus - Director, Best feature film - 1988 (National Award)

2. Golden Lotus - Best Feature Film - 1985 (National Award)

3. Critics choice - Best Feature Film - 1985 (National Award)

Damul Press Clip

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