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

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Dissent and Tamil Cinema

Political messaging in Tamil cinema captures activism, dissent and caste inequities with communist sensibilities.

C Rudhraiya’s Aval Appadithan, the 1978 Tamil film, begins with a shot of Arun (Kamal Haasan), a documentary film-maker, standing behind a camera and looking directly at the audience. His first words are, “Hello. Please move a little bit to the left. Yes. Now pay careful attention. Okay?” Haasan, when he wrote about this for the Hindu, confirmed that the film wanted audiences to be more open to leftist philosophy. This didn’t mean that leftist cinema had not been part of Kollywood before Aval Appadithan. However, in this film, it was an expression of disgust at the mainstream cinema of the time. Soon after the scene, Manju (Sripriya) looks at the rushes of the documentary in the film and says, “The whole thing is stupid. The way it is shot, and the way people like you seem to enjoy it.”

Manju’s spontaneous outburst might well have been about a future period in mainstream Tamil cinema that only regressed in its politics and discourse, particularly films belonging to big stars that would become an assertion of toxic masculinity, caste pride, and the upholding of “culture.”

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Updated On : 1st Oct, 2018

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