The Tamil language film ‘Jai Bhim’ has got the best ranking on the movie related site IMDb.
The film has been a hit with audiences compared to classic movies like ‘The Shoshank Redemption’ and ‘The Godfather’.
Film journalist Asim Chhabra wrote that it is the latest in a series of serious Indian films. He says the film tells the story of the oppression of dalits at the lowest level in the strict caste system of Hinduism.
The beginning of ‘Jai Bhim’ shows that some police officers are segregating suspects on the basis of caste. In that scene, people belonging to the major castes are asked to leave. At the same time, those who are Dalits or Adivasis have been asked to stay. Later, the police make false allegations against the weaker sections.
This scene is scary and disturbing. Fear and dread in it People standing in a corner almost know their consequences. This scene reminds us that such things always happen. It shows that the lives of marginalized people, especially dalits, in the small towns and villages of the country are extremely precarious.
This film is a link of Dalit movement
Dalits make up about 20 per cent of India’s total population and, despite the existence of the law, face constant discrimination and violence.
The name of this film ‘Jai Bhim’ means “May Bhim Amar Rahe”. This popular slogan has been given by people who believe in Dalit scholar and leader BR Ambedkar. Ambedkar was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution and the country’s first law minister.
The film is directed by TJ Gyanvel and supported by Tamil film star Surya. The film tells the true story of a lawyer who fights against wrongdoing.
In the film, Surya has played the role of a lawyer. A pregnant woman whose husband was previously in police custody but was later declared missing. The lawyer defended the petition filed on behalf of the woman.
‘Jai Bhim’ is part of a new movement in Tamil cinema. Under this, many young filmmakers are presenting stories of atrocities against dalits through films.
Film historian S. Theodore Bhaskaran states, “The Dalit movement in Tamil Nadu has been gaining momentum since the centenary of Ambedkar’s birth in 1991.”
Bhaskaran says, “The forgotten Dalit thinkers of the 20th century were brought from the past. The views of social activists and leaders Periyar and Ambedkar spread through the writings of many Dalit writers. Raksha. Cinema. And made many other films. But he used famous things like song, action and melodrama. “
Films in other languages also changed
Now Dalit fiction has also found a place in independent or Hindi films in other Indian languages. Among them are films depicting the lives of Dalit Sikhs, ‘Anne Gorhe Da Daan’ (Punjabi).
Masan (Hindi) represents the romance between a boy from a family and a girl from an upper caste who cremated a corpse in a cemetery. Fandry and Sarat (both Marathi) are also such films. It is directed by Nagraj Manjula of Dalit caste.
Fandry is the story of a young boy. His family catches pigs in the village. He falls in love with an upper caste girl. Sarat is an interracial romantic film that was a huge success at the box office. The list also includes Tamil-made pebbles (Kojhangal). It is the official film from India in the Best International Film category for the 2022 Oscars.
There are many Dalit filmmakers today
Now in mainstream Tamil cinema, there are many filmmakers whose main characters are Dalits who are now fighting for their rights against the existing discrimination. When no legal means can alleviate their suffering, they are ready to fight physically.
Veteran filmmaker Vetrimaran is one such director. He made the film Visarnai in 2015 on the plight of Tamil migrants in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. He made Asuran on the massacre of dalits. Directors Mari Selvaraj and Pa Ranjit made films based on such stories, the main characters of which are Dalits.
Dalit filmmaker Ranjit, often referred to as the Spike Lee of the Tamil film industry, in a 2020 interview with news website The Wire, spoke of previous Tamil films, “the way Dalit characters were portrayed was painful. Either he was not discussed at all, or his involvement in the story was considered “revolutionary.”
Ranjit had said, “Around this, I had to think about what my stories could tell. I wanted to show that my culture is based on discrimination and violence … and to write Dalit characters nowadays. Nowadays directors are more aware. “
Ranjit produced director Mari Selvaraj’s debut film Periyaram Perumal. The film begins with a card that reads “Caste and religion are against humanity”. The protagonist of this film wants to be a lawyer like Ambedkar.
There is a scene in this movie in which some people are dancing to the song of 1983 movie ‘Poradada’. The music of this song has been composed by the great composer and Dalit Ilyaraja himself. The lyrics of the song are, “We will take care of your throne / … the cry of our victory will be heard / our light will shine on this world / we will fight if we are proletarians.”
The same song runs in the background of Selvaraj’s film Karnan (2021). It is now known as the ‘Dalit Song’.
Tamil cinema superstar Rajinikanth was instrumental in making Ranjit’s films hits. Impressed by the stories of these films, Rajinikanth agreed to play the lead role. He acted in Kabli (the story of a Tamil immigrant gangster from Malaysia) and Kala (the film is about Asia’s largest slum, where Tamil immigrants live in large numbers).
And in the new film Sarpatta Parambarai, Ranjit explores the boxing culture among the Dalits of Chennai, which was heavily influenced by Muhammad Ali. He was influenced not only by his game but also by the struggle against apartheid from the Vietnam War to the United States.
Has nothing really changed?
There are also many people who believe that not all Dalit characters in Tamil cinema are worthy of praise. Lina Manimeklai, director of the 2019 film ‘Madathi: An Unfair Tale’, believes that the new cinema has not changed much.
He says that the heroes of the new films, their features and the origin of the story are all the same. She says that the roles of female characters are the same as before.
But it is clear that audiences are now watching new movies. ‘Jai Bhim’ has not been released in cinemas, so there are no box office figures to prove its popularity. But its user rating of 9.6 on IMDb has pushed it to number one ranking.
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