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South Asian Studies

This South Asian Studies Research Guide is a library tool to assist scholars and students at NYU in finding useful resources (in print and online) on South Asia.

The South Asia Documentary Film Collection

NYU’s South Asia librarian, Aruna Magier, has been working with faculty, grad students, filmmakers, vendors and distributors to build a well-rounded research and teaching collection of important documentaries from the countries of South Asia, across many thematic issues of current interest to our faculty. With more than 600 films, this collection is growing collection all the time.

 Regular South Asia Documentary Screenings are part of South Asia at NYU events, engaging members of the NYU community in the South Asian documentary genre, and promoting the visibility and usage of these films. Often, the filmmakers are brought to the screenings to present talks and Q&A sessions after the film, with NYU's South Asian Studies community. Please check here for announcements of upcoming screenings, pass the word on to your colleagues and friends..

For a complete listing (through 2018) of the Library's holdings of the films in our collection -- which you can check out for home viewing -- click here. For more recently added titles, please use Bobcat for searching by title or author (filmmaker).

South Asia Documentary Screenings @ NYU October 2018

Screening of Raga Revelry 

Film Screening and Discussion with Shreedevi Thacker. Special Guest: Chandrika Tandon

Thursday October 4, 2018
5:15 - 7:15 pm 
239 Greene Street, East Building, 8th Floor

Raga music has become increasingly popular as audiences are drawn to this North Indian classical tradition. The film, Raga Revelry, is an introduction to the centuries-old philosophy and beautiful sound that evokes a vivid range of emotions and moods and invites the listener to transcend their personality self.

The viewer is transported to the heart of Indian culture through one man’s journey to create a permanent sanctuary in modern India for this rich music. Vijay Kichlu, a renowned musicologist and the recipient of India’s highest recognition for a practicing artist, explains the fundamental music appreciation concepts within melody (raga) and rhythm (tala) that enhance the listener’s pleasure and enjoyment. The Rasa – the essence or soul of this music – is palpably felt in the interviews and performances by some of India’s best-known artists as well as in the revelry and camaraderie between the musicians.

Shreedevi Thacker is an independent filmmaker, writer and producer based in New York City. She was inspired by the desire to share the philosophy and spirituality inherent in Indian traditions and created Raga Revelry: A Journey through North Indian Classical Music currently in worldwide distribution for both retail and academic markets. In addition to developing other film projects, she is involved in technology solutions and consulting.

Special Guest: Chandrika Tandon

Introductions by Radha S. Hegde (NYU).

Seats are limited! Please RSVP here.

A 2-DVD set of the film with bonus music appreciation tracks will be available at a discount at the event.

For questions, please contact Sowmitha Srinivasan (

***There will be a wine and cheese reception at the event.***

Trailer and more information

Past Screenings

Screening of Nostalgia for the future

Monday October 30, 2017
6:30 pm - 8.30 pm
Silver Center NYU, Room #300

Free & Open to all with  a valid ID
(This is a film on Indian modernity, the citizen and the architecture of the home. It looks at imaginations of homes across four examples of buildings made over the period of a century). trailer


Post-screening Q&A with, Avijit Mukul Kishore (fillmmaker) & Rohan Shivkumar (architect), Discussion led by Prof. Tejaswini Ganti (NYU) and Prof. Dipti Khera (NYU).

Newly Acquired South Asia Documentaries at AFC, Bobst

Here are a few newly acquired South Asian documentary films at Bobst (AFC):

Chuppan Chupai = Hide and Seek  "Chuppan Chupai (Hide and Seek) follows the lives of four LGBT Pakistanis: activist Neeli, flighty but "famous" Kami, shy Waseem, and Jenny, a transgender woman who struggles with her transition. All live under the specter of Pakistan's sharia laws forbidding homosexuality. Throughout the film, their lives in the urban centers of Lahore and Rawalpindi are shown to be alternately joyous and painful -- symptomatic of life around the world."

Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness "This documentary follows the story of Saba, a young woman from the Punjab region of Pakistan, who was shot and left for dead by her father and uncle after marrying Qaiser, a man once promised to her by her family. Told through the lens of a true love story, the film is a scathing examination of the contradictions between modernism and tradition within Pakistani society, as Saba struggles with pressures to “forgive” the relatives who tried to kill her."

Hum Aisay Kyun Hain  unfolds common myths about rape and how the whole society is conditioned to protect the rapist and blame the victim. The documentary introduces a new term for rape, ‘Zabarjinsi’ and encourages people to use this term instead of traditional verbatim like ‘Izat Lut Jana’ and ‘Ismat Dari’ which puts down women and reinforces the idea that it is women who lose their honor by being raped. The documentary encourages people to hold the rapist accountable, shift the focus on him and if there is to be stigma attached, it should not be with the person who is raped but with the rapist (Zabarjinsia)".

Dharavi: Slum for Sale documents the true story of citizens in action to protect and improve their home of Dharavi, the vast but vital slum of Mumbai (Bombay).


Collection Highlights


A collection of oral histories of Indian LGBT persons

Available at Bobst:

Project Bolo - Aditya, Hoshang, Parmesh, Raj  - Short Version

(Image source:


Roots in the Sand

"Jayasri Majumdar Hart's ROOTS IN THE SAND is a multi-generational portrait of pioneering Punjabi-Mexican families who settled, a century ago, in Southern California's Imperial Valley. Through the use of found footage, archival and family photographs, personal and public documents, Hart tells the touching and inspirational story of a community that grew out of a struggle for economic survival in the face of prejudice. This website supports and augments the history that is revealed in the film.

By 1910, close to 5,000 men from Punjab found jobs in the American West. These men had journeyed across the ocean, not to settle in this country, but to earn money enough to return to their home country of India. However, poor wages and working conditions convinced them to pool their resources, lease land and grow their own crops. A number of the men settled in the Imperial Valley, just north of the Mexico border, where they used water from the Colorado River to irrigate the desert, a way of farming familiar to them from their homeland.

As the men prospered, they wanted to marry and settle down, though immigration laws forbade importing brides from India. So the men turned to the Mexican women working in the fields who, much like the women back home, covered their heads and bodies from the blazing sun. Valentina Alvarez married Rullia Singh, Rosario Perez married Purn Singh and Silveria Jill married Phoman Singh. They were among the earliest couples in a cross-cultural wedding boom born out of necessity in the Imperial Valley.

It is these resilient and innovative people and their stories that ROOTS IN THE SAND explores. The film goes on to document the Punjabi-Mexican families' resourcefulness in overcoming political and economic obstacles placed before them time and time again. The stories are told with affection and pride by children and grandchildren. This extraordinary documentary places early United States anti-immigration and anti-miscegenation laws in the context of the daily lives and legacies of people who were deeply affected by them."

South Asia Librarian

Profile Photo
Aruna Magier Pulipaka
Aruna Magier
Mezzanine 1M-02
Bobst Library, NYU
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012