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

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Social Protest in Kaala

Towards Ambedkarite Social Justice

Reading Kaala with Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature reveals the film’s vision for Ambedkarite social protest.

In Pa Ranjith’s Kabali (2016), we are introduced to super-star Rajinikanth through an image of him reading My Father Baliah (2011), a Dalit memoir by Y B Satyanarayana. The larger-than-life protagonist’s source of strength is not an arbitrary, divinely ordained “purity” and “goodness,” but an empowering Ambedkarite ideology that is constantly referenced through the imagery of the film. In Ranjith’s recent outing, Kaala (2018), the lyrics of the song “Katravai Patravai” feature B R Ambedkar’s famous call to annihilate caste: “Educate, Agitate, Organise.”

It is not that Indian cinema has not viewed instances of social movements being represented on screen before, but that, curiously enough, none seem to have ever boldly demanded for the annihilation of caste. After more than a hundred years of Indian cinema, here is an exciting mainstream film, featuring possibly the biggest superstar in the country, which makes visible a critical form of social protest that has been sanitised for our movie screens. To view a film like Kaala, it is crucial that we revisit a seminal text, Sharankumar Limbale’s Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature (2004), which helps us appreciate the significance of a film like Kaala.

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Updated On : 23rd Aug, 2019
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