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South Directors With Anti-caste Theme At Forefront of Their Projects


Tamil directors Vetrimaaran, Pa Ranjith, and Mari Selvaraj, with their most recent projects, have brought the anti-caste theme to the forefront. Their films have had some hard-hitting narratives and comprehensive portrayals.


Back in the 1980s, there were fewer films such as Sivappu Malli and Alai Osai with Dalit characters. These films were few and far between. If there was an anti-caste story in a Tamil film, it was told solely through the eyes of upper caste protagonists.

But that appears to have changed a bit. For instance, in Pariyerum Perumal, directed by Mari Selvaraj, Pariyan, an aspiring lawyer, asks uncomfortable questions about power politics and socio-economic hierarchy. As the story progresses, we get a clear image of caste division and unfairness, particularly when Pariyan is subjected to heartbreaking violence after he falls in love with Jo (Anandhi), an upper-caste woman.

Mari Selvaraj’s second film, Karnan, starring Dhanush, received critical acclaim for its hard-hitting representation of caste, much like his directorial debut.

Rajinikanth in Pa Ranjith’s Kaala comes from a family that migrated from southern Tamil Nadu to Mumbai’s Dharavi and is a member of the community. He is a Don who stands up to powerful men to save the land of his people.

Jai Bhim, by Gnanavel, poses a lot of questions about equality, education, law enforcement, and the justice system.

Asuran, directed by Vetrimaran, portrayed the caste-based atrocities in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu. Dhanush won the best actor award at 67th National Film Award for his role of Sivassami in the film.

Blockbuster hits like Mari Selvaraj’s Karnan, TJ Gnanavel’s Jai Bhim, Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai, and films like Mandela, Writer, and Maadathy have ushered in a new era in Tamil cinema, with empowered subaltern protagonists rising against caste oppression.

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