ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Gandhism

This article argues that Gandhian cultural nationalism is not just an ideology but an ideological consensus, and that it turns even opposing ideological positions like Marxism into variations of its own practices and certainties. It is the caste question that provides the ground for developing this ideological consensus, and it arises from the depoliticisation of untouchability in such a way that a dalit political subject becomes impossible to imagine. Telugu social reformers attempted to translate this logic into the cultural realm, especially through films. The paper critically analyses Gudavalli Ramabrahmam's popular Telugu social film, Malapilla, made in 1938. This film portrays untouchables in a negative light, and issues of inter-caste marriage and love constitute an important undercurrent of the narrative. Malapilla is the inaugural moment of popular cinema's investment in Gandhian nationalist politics and history.

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