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“Dilli Dark” Shines Light on Racial Biases and Identity Struggles in India

The New cross-cultural film provides satirical yet nuanced take on experiences of African diaspora through Nigerian immigrant’s lens.
April 30, 2024
6:15 am
Dibakar Das Roy

In a refreshing departure from mainstream Indian cinema, Dibakar Das Roy’s satirical film “Dilli Dark” offers a thought-provoking exploration of racial prejudices, societal biases, and the complex question of identity and belonging through the lens of a young Nigerian immigrant studying in New Delhi.


The focal point of the film is Michael Okeke, a Nigerian student who serves as a metaphor for the experiences of outsiders grappling with racial discrimination and demonization in India’s diverse yet complex social fabric. By chronicling Okeke’s daily challenges of feeling alienated everywhere he goes, the movie holds up a mirror to the deep-rooted biases and denial of cosmopolitanism that persist in Indian society.



In an interview with The Nollywood Reporter, Dibakar said, “India is a country with immense diversity, and wherever there’s diversity, problems often arise from that diversity as well. I felt we needed to talk about racial identity and look at the complex nature of Indian society through this lens.”


While racial and cultural identity lie at the crux of the film’s narrative, Das Roy also draws from 800-year-old histories of African diaspora communities in India to showcase the cyclical nature of prejudices. By juxtaposing Okeke’s modern struggles with the bygone love story of Sultan Razia and her purported African partner, the filmmaker aims to underscore how societal biases have persisted across centuries.



“I wanted to show the cyclical nature of history …. Such problems are reflective of the issues we see in modern-day India, showcasing the cyclical nature of societal biases,” Dibakar told TNR.


By employing satire as well as non-linear storytelling, “Dilli Dark” manages to confront uncomfortable truths about racism and colorism in an engaging manner without alienating viewers. The movie also celebrates the lesser-known cosmopolitan histories that connected the Indian subcontinent with Africa for centuries.


After a premiere at the New York Film Festival in May, the cross-cultural Indian-Nigerian production is eyeing distribution avenues across cinemas and streaming platforms globally.


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