DER Documentary

Dadi's Family

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From the Odyssey series
by Michael Camerini and Rina Gill
co-produced by Michael Camerini and James MacDonald
color, 58 min, 1981




Non-profit and K-12 pricing also available
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Dadi is the grandmother, or, as she explains, the "manager" of an extended family living in the Haryana region of Northern India. Women here leave their natal villages and come as strangers to the households of their husband's parents. This film explores the extended family and its problems, particularly through the women of Dadi's family. Going by the age-old Indian belief that the larger the family the more the hands to help, Dadi runs her household with an iron fist, trying valiantly to make sure that her children stay together in harmony.

The daughters-in-law speak about inherent tensions created by the authority of Dadi, their loneliness as 'outsiders', and their husbands' unrealistic expectations that wives should labor in the fields, perform all chores, raise children and still have food and water waiting at home. Beyond the internal tensions, social and economic changes outside the village also threaten the stability and cohesion within the family. Dadi's third son, for example, marries a teacher in the city and Dadi frets that he will no longer contribute financially to the farm and that all the family wealth will be subdivided. Within the family, says Dadi, "we can bear anything because we all suffer together." Yet it is clear that her children's generation is already ambivalent about life on the farm and want a different life for their children. Dadi herself is keenly aware of these processes; despite her conservative upbringing, she tries to understand the different needs of her children and adapt to their more contemporary thinking.

A strong comment on the lives of women in 1980's rural India Dadi's Family spans the thinking of two different generations and essays the struggle between the two to commit to their different interpretations of an ideal family life.

Other films in the Odyssey series:
The Ancient Mariners
Ben's Mill
The Chaco Legacy
Franz Boas
The Incas
Little Injustices
Maasai Women
Margaret Mead: Taking Note
Maya Lords of the Jungle
Myths and the Moundbuilders
N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman
Ongka's Big Moka
On the Cowboy Trail
Other People's Garbage
Seeking the First Americans
The Three Worlds of Bali

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