This sixth episode -- the next to last in Louis Malle's epic-length sociological documentary Phantom India -- charts the subcultural behaviors and customs of numerous Indian minority groups. It begins with an illustration of tribal culture -- Malle, Becker, and Laureux spend an extended period of time with the Bandos, a bellicose and semi-barbaric mountainous tribe that inhabits around 100 villages in the region of Orissa and teeters on the verge of extinction via complete assimilation into mainstream Indian society. Malle's cameras witness the Bandos constructing a cob house; in his narration, he discusses the "sexual dormitories" established for tribal adolescents, as well as the sun worship and fertility ceremonies that create an enduring sadness in the villagers' hearts. Following an illuminative trip to the Bando market, Malle and co. segue into discussions of more westernized subcultures in Indian society, including Indian Christians, Indian Jews, and an oddball religious cult run by Sri Aurobindo and administered by a figure known only as "The Mother." The episode then cuts back to tribal investigation for an exploration of the Todas tribe, a subcultural group that intrigues Malle thanks to its complete absence of war, hunger, and societal injustice. Malle highlights many of the tribe's unusual beliefs, including the idea that man was created after being pulled out of a river by the tail of a bull, and the notion of "sexually initiating" all of the tribe's adolescent girls at the hands of one village "teacher."
by Nathan Southern synopsis