While there have been films and songs heaping praises on the so-called upper castes, movies on the ‘oppressed’ communities and their struggles were less in Tamil cinema. However, things are changing now, and a crop of young filmmakers are focusing on this subject.
In the last few years, there have been a bunch of movies, showcasing the protagonist from the ‘lower caste’ and highlighting the hardships he and his people undergo. This week, Mykollywood.com takes a look at some of those movies as part of its Friday special articles series.
‘Kabali’ is a 2016 film written and directed by Pa Ranjith and produced by Kalaipuli S Thanu. The plot concerns the gang war between Kabaleeswaran (played by Rajinikanth) and Tony Lee (portrayed by Winston Chao). Radhika Apte, Dhansika, Kishore, Dinesh, Kalaiyarasan, and John Vijay also appear in pivotal roles.
While filming mostly occurred in Malaysia, some scenes were shot in Bangkok and Hong Kong. The film showed how people from a few communities were sidelined and oppressed by others.
It featured Rajini as Kabali, who fights for their rights and safeguards their interests. In a scene, Kabali would explain why he wears coat. He also talks about the dress of Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar.
Santhosh Narayanan composed the film’s soundtrack and background score of the film. This is the first time, he is scoring for a Rajini-starrer film. The soundtrack album features five songs with lyrics written by Kabilan, Vivek, Umadevi and Arunraja Kamaraj and one song was released as a bonus track after the film’s release.
‘Kaala’ is a 2018 film written and directed by Pa Ranjith and produced by Dhanush, under his production house Wunderbar Films. Starring Rajinikanth in the lead role, the film was announced in 2016.
The film was also dubbed into Telugu and Malayalam languages and released under the same title and in Hindi as ‘Kaala Karikalan’. ‘Kaala’ is the first Indian film ever to be released in Saudi Arabia, following the country lifting its ban on public theatres in December 2017.
In Mumbai, the people who had migrated from Tamil Nadu are living in the Dharavi slum. Union Minister Haridev ‘Hari Dhadha’ Abhayankar (Nana Patekar), previously a gangster who had carried out attacks in Dharavi, tries to evict the people and seize their land.
Over the years, he becomes a Minister and plans to clear the area to construct buildings using his construction company in the form of government schemes with the help of his supporter Vishnu Bhai (Sampath Raj). However, Karikaalan (Rajinikanth), living in Dharavi, opposes it to protect the area and his people.
‘Pariyerum Perumal’ is a 2018 film produced by Pa Ranjith under his production banner Neelam Productions and directed by his assistant Mari Selvaraj, making his directorial debut.
The film stars Kathir and Anandhi in the leading roles with Yogi Babu in a supporting role. The film features music composed by Santhosh Narayanan, with cinematography handled by Sridhar, and edited by Selva R K
It was released on 28 September 2018, to critical acclaim and received many awards. ‘Pariyerum Perumal’ narrates the story of a youth hailing from Puliyankulam village near Tirunelveli. Pariyerum Perumal alias Pariyan (Kathir) belongs to an oppressed caste.
The movie begins with the brutal murder of his beloved black dog Karuppi. The canine hunting companion of Pariyan is the first one we see becoming a victim of caste hegemony.
‘Asuran’ is a 2019 film written and directed by Vetrimaaran and produced by Kalaipuli S Thanu under his production banner V Creations. It is based on the novel Vekkai by Poomani. It talks about caste equations in and around Kovilpatti and features Dhanush as the head of a family from the oppressed caste.
The film stars Dhanush and Manju Warrier in lead roles, where the latter makes her Tamil debut. G V Prakash Kumar scored the music for the film, rejoining back his association with Vetrimaaran.
Cinematography was handled by Velraj, whereas editing was done by R Ramar. ‘Asuran’ was released on 4 October 2019 and went on to become a super hit, besides winning rave reviews.
The movie starts as Sivasaami (Dhanush) is with his son Chidambaram, trying to evade capture from the police and some people hired to kill Chidambaram. While Sivasaami’s wife Pachaiyammal and daughter Lakshmi are also escaping, though in a different direction. Then, the events that led up to this are narrated.