Tamil films and caste realities: What’s pricking the fragile egos

There is perhaps no other contemporary cinema that can match Tamil cinema in its portrayal of caste realities. Illustration: Immayabharathi K

The sheer scale of injustice meted out to Rajakannu, his wife and two children, one still in the womb, depicted in TJ Gnanavel’s movie Jai Bhim, has led to animated discussions about the portrayal of socially marginalised communities in Tamil cinema.

Suriya plays advocate K Chandru, a real-life legal crusader, who fought the case in 1993 on behalf of a young Irula tribe woman, Parvathi, whose husband, Rajakannu, was arrested on a false charge of theft and died in custody due to police torture. Overnight, the movie became a success story.

Brickbats followed soon, one by one, from the most expected quarters – the viewers.

The first controversy was over the character of IG Perumalsami (played by Prakash Raj), who slaps a witness for giving his answers in Hindi. The second, a legal notice against Suriya and Amazon Prime, issued by the Vanniyar community for portraying them in a poor light ‘with intent to harm the reputation and goodwill of the community'. Last heard, actor Suriya has shot off a letter to Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi party explaining, among other things, that he meant no ill will. Caste playing on from reel to real, from Tamil cinema to Tamil politics.

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