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Karnan : A powerful cinematic projection of Dalit Assertion and Anger


Vidyasagar

VidyasagarHe did not hit us because we vandalized the bus. No, he hit us because we stood tall. He hit me because I, Maadasamy’s son, was named Duryodanan.
 ~ (Dialogue from Karnan)

Karnan is a Tamil language film which was recently released on Amazon Prime. Karnan is the second movie directed by the Periyerum Perumal fame Mari Selvaraj that speaks about caste atrocities and injustices in society. It is a beautifully crafted Indian film that brings out the suffering and pain of oppressed communities. Karnan, played by Dhanush, is one of the main characters in the film and a symbol of the new generation of the oppressed who speak against historical injustices and the Brahmanical state structure.

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In Memory of Sant Ramanand Ji


Ram Dayal Ahirwar

ram ahirwar 2019Political and social theorists are in support of subaltern theoretical development in India as an emancipatory project for the socially, religiously, gender-wise, and regionally marginal. But within the strand of Dalit politics, there are lots of contestations, there are independents, groups of activists and public intellectuals who have problematic dispositions towards words like Dalit, Bahujan, Shudra, DBA, Navayana, Kabir Panthi, Aadi, Satnami, Ravidassia, etc. Two strands are less contentious: first, the Dravida movement in the south which has vibrancy derived from the image of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and second, the Ambedkarite movement, with the legacy of legendary Dr. Ambedkar.

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Metonymical Representation of Dalit in Ray's Sadgati


Chandrakant Kamble

chandrakanth kambleFamous Hindi writer Munshi Premchand's (1881-1936) story Sadgati  ('deliverance' in the religious sense of the term) was picturized by legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) in a 1981 movie with the same name. India is celebrating Ray's 100th birth anniversary in 2021. In academia and curriculum, Ray's many films are considered masterpieces and taught to film and media students in several Indian institutes, including the Film and Television Institute of India. Mainstream Indian cinema has an inadequate representation of the Dalit and marginalized communities.

The few exceptions, from Achhut Kanya (1936) to Madam Chief Minister (2021) have misrepresentations or portrayals through the established Savarna gaze, displaying immense prejudice and metonymy. Ray is not an exception in this trend of biased cinematic presentation of Dalits. Upper caste filmmakers have always talked about the 'Other' through the Savarna perspective. Feminist theorist and scholar Gayatri Spivak's asked a question, 'Can the Subaltern speak?' her theoretical answer is No…Never.

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Beyond Dalitness: Start Annihilating Caste and Claiming Humanness


Milind Thokal

milind thokalThe process of learning and unlearning is inevitable and will continue forever but some basic concepts must always remain at the core where we must never have any confusion, keeping it more simple, straightforward, and to the point. Let's start with the very basic word ‘Dalit’. Dalit is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Divided, Broken, Scattered’. This is nothing but a nomenclature given to people belonging to the lower castes, characterized as "Untouchable". The word encompasses thousands of castes or we can say it is an umbrella under which all the Scheduled Castes and Tribes fall.

The word gained popularity through the Dalit Panther Movement when they adopted this term as an act of confident assertion, rejecting Mahatma Gandhi's nomenclature of Harijan, children of God. Dalit Panther defined this word in their 1972 manifesto as: “A member of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Neo-Buddhist, the working-people, the land-less and poor peasants, women, and all those who are being exploited politically, economically, socially and in the name of religion”. We must introspect on whether that has benefited us or has the word became a handy marketing tool in the hands of the upper castes.

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Outlook magazine's duplicity


JS Vinay

js vinayRecently, there was a controversy when the Outlook magazine released an issue with a cover story on “50 Dalits remaking India”. [1]

Many anti-caste activists raised questions about the issue. Some were talking about the usage of the word “Dalit” since a court had ruled against the usage of the term in previous judgments. There were people from the list like Rahul Pradhan[2], Disha Pinky Sheikh[3], Kadubai Kharat[4] who later gave statements that they are not Dalits but Ambedkarites.

 Some people in social media suggested alternatives to be used in place of the term 'Dalits', like 'Bahujans, Ambedkarites, Scheduled Castes, Buddhists (even though not all in the lists were Buddhists), Mulnivasis' etc.

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Rest in Power – K. R. Gouriamma!

 

Bobby Kunhu

"There is no escape – we pay for the violence of our ancestors" – Frank Herbert

kr-gowri-amma

 It has been the fate of every radical social and political activist in history from Jesus to Ambedkar to Malik el-Shabbazz to be mistreated by their peers during their lifetime and to be celebrated and coopted by entrenched hegemons – be it the deep state or the deep caste – across ideologies. Kalathilparambil Raman Gouriamma, popularly known as K. R. Gouriamma, who passed away at the ripe old age of 101 on 11th May, 2021, was to be no different.

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How to turn a murder into suicide: Sumitra Bhave's 'Kasav'


Rahul Gaikwad

rahul gaikwadEvery now and then one comes across some or the other celebrated so-called progressive leader/writer/activist who turns out to be absolutely shallow, superfluous and even hypocritical upon closer examination. This has been the case with Vijay Tendulkar and his Kanyadaan drama; or Pandit Anand Patwardhan's Jai Bhim Comrade where he portrayed Ambedkarite assertion in a bad light and manipulated it. It is no coincidence these so-called progressives invariably come from upper castes, mostly brahmin class.

A couple of weeks back, one such celebrated writer/director who wrote/ directed/produced many award winning marathi films passed away. While I was talking to one my friends, she mentioned how she happened to watch this much hyped and celebrated movie by Ms Sumitra Bhave named Kasav (Turtle) and was particularly disturbed with a couple of scenes and questioned their need in the movie. So after listening to her objection I decided to watch the movie myself.

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