Sairat and the banality of violence

What makes ‘Sairat’ realistic is the forthright manner in which it highlights the routine violence of caste and patriarchy.

Have we ever bothered to think why the tragedies of Delta Meghwals and Rohith Vemulas fail to enter the mainstream public imagination? What discourse constructs our world of realities where the inhuman tragedies that continue to perpetrate the horrors of caste and gender violence fail to even attract sympathy, let alone bringing those involved in committing these heinous crimes to punishment? Rather, the mainstream public sphere is characterized by a consistent invisibilizing and negation of the violence that emanates from caste and patriarchal structures. Nagraj Manjule’s latest film, Sairat, is a cinematic intervention against such constructions of reality and compels us to look beyond what meets the eye.

Those who have seen Manjule’s debut film Fandry would remember the iconic climax where the protagonist Jabya flings a stone with full vigor towards the camera, as if it were aimed at the audience. Sairat is perhaps a reminder that the stone that Jabya threw at us in Fandry is not sufficient to demolish the structures of caste and patriarchy. Sairat highlights that fact that incidents of caste and gender atrocities are recurring events and a reality that one often chooses to ignore, consciously or otherwise.

Archi- Sairat’s female protagonist- is a daughter of the local MLA and her access to the pleasures of affluence are made abundantly visible through her powerfully crafted character. Archi’s character transgresses the norm of the submissive, shy ‘heroines’ in mainstream Indian films. Manjule, while circumventing these clichés, gives a great deal of agency to Archi’s character and boldly marks her desires. Manjule also highlights that the bravado that Archi exhibits is not accessible to other female characters in the film. Archi’s ability to transgress into a strong female character is enabled by a patriarchal structure of power that she inhibits as a daughter of the local MLA belonging to the dominant caste. In a scene where Archi drives a tractor and stops at the male protagonist Parshya’s house, Parshya’s mother looks at Archi and says, “You drive tractor like a man”. Upon looking at Archi, Parshya’s mother’s face is marked by an expression that is simultaneously in awe of Archi for driving a tractor and aware of the realities that confine her or her daughter within the boundaries of their lower caste female subjecthood. This moment reminded me of the gruesome events that took place in Khairlanji a decade ago where four members of the Bhotmange family belonging to a Dalit caste were murdered by the members of politically dominant Kunbi caste. The women of the family, Surekha and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public and later hacked to death by mutilating their bodies. One of the many things that had attracted the ire of the Kunbis was the fact that Priyanka dared to ride a bicycle to school while her mother Surekha had fought for retaining the ownership of her own piece of land. It is the same unholy collusion of patriarchy and caste that ‘allows’ Archi to ride a Royal Enfield while simultaneously  making Priyanka Bhotmange a victim of caste violence in Khairlanji for riding a bicycle. Manjule’s brilliance lies in how routinely he highlights this difference just by the subtle expression on the mother’s face, bereft of any melodrama that one has come to associate with mainstream Indian cinema.

In a scene towards the second half of the film, Manjule crafts another such moment that succinctly captures the core of the film. Archi’s father has to surrender his candidature to Sonal Tai, a female colleague in his party. This surrender on the father’s part, as we are made to understand, is a result of the ‘shame’ that Archi has brought to him and his family by eloping with a boy from lower caste. Earlier in an opening sequence, the father is shown criticizing the opposition contestant suggesting that since the opposition leaders cannot ‘control’ the ladies of their own family they are unfit to rule the constituency. One can not help but notice the blow his male ego has received from two women with aspirations, his daughter Archi, and Sonal Tai. The shot closes with a decisive look on the father’s face that is linked with the climax of the film that, like in Fandry, leaves the viewer shaken and speechless.

The daily violence of caste and patriarchy is often invisiblised in the mainstream public discourse, including films. Manjule’s films, inspired by the Ambedkarite discourse, forcefully draw attention to these routine acts of violence in a layered manner compelling the audience to take note of the same. Underneath Sairat’s narrative as an epic love story lie the banal realities of violence of both caste and patriarchy. Sairat, and Fandry are reminders that we need to open ourselves to these lived realities of the society that we inhibit, whose denial otherwise validates our comfort zones.

This was first published in The Goan on 9 May 2016. 

Masaan is an anti Modi propaganda

masaan-posterThe libtard sickular filmmakers in Versova are at it again. Their hatred for Hindu Culture has been always evident from their unwanted and immoral films that have sex scenes and regressive ideas such as woman emancipation, caste eradication etc. The latest one in that league is this film called Masaan, written by a guy called Varun Grover (who’s also been performing a show called Democracy ki Aisi Taisi, ever since our honourable PM Narendra Modi came to power.) Ironically, he studied at Banaras Hindu University but was involved in theatre group there so must be a jholakurta type commie. There is no source I can cite (fuck you Rajiv Malhotra for having forced us into these useless academic routines) about the director Neeraj Ghaywan about being an anti-national but he’s from Hyderabad which always has been a breeding ground for anti Akhand Hindutva nation. He recently opposed appointment of Gajendra Chauhan and supported the naxalites at FTII. But their personal linkages with these naxalite outfits is not as shocking as the film itself and the imagery that Masaan tries to plant into the innocent viewers in India.

Masaan means crematorium. The film is set in contemporary Banaras. The sickular libtard khangressi filmmakers want to subtly convey that Banaras has become a crematorium post Modi’s victory from that constituency. Why didn’t they make this film in Amethi, Rae Bareilly or Italy for that matter? There’s a credible source who told me that this film is funded by Ford Foundation to malign the pristine image of India. They say this film is shot in Banras but don’t show any of the holy ghats nor anyone doing Puja and Aarti. Instead, in the opening scene of the film, a boy is doing Devi. I mean, why would you have a film about Banaras opening with a sex scene, with a character who’s named Devi? My hindu sentiments have been tantalised..errr…hurt.  Also, they’ve maligned the image of Brahmin girls by showing her engaging in illicit relation with a Bania. The character of Mr. Pathak is very problematically portrayed (but good they used a Brahmin actor to portray Brahmin character. Credit where due!). They show him engaged in immoral activities like gambling, corruption, allowing his daughter to decide her future etc.

The other story in the film is fundamentally flawed given that it shows intercaste relationship between Deepak and Shaalu. Shaalu, a hindu girl from a respectable family, is shown to like urdu shayari written by muslim poets. How can they allow this on screen? How did Pahalaj NIhlani pass this film for censor? It also shows disintegration of Hindu culture by portraying Deepak who’s moving away from his traditional occupation to city after getting a better job. This might send a wrong message to lower caste youths in this country. If all of them move to cities by getting educated and good jobs, who will burn our pyres, till our land and moreover, maintain the village culture and tradition? This is what that British confidante Ambedkar wanted his people to do. Masaan is just an extension of that thought and hence a threat to Hindu nation. If they make a sequel to Masaan, they might even profess conversion and criticise Ghar wapasi.

Both the protagonist of the film, Devi and Deepak, move to Allahabad for better prospects, leaving Banaras. This shows a city developed by Mughal rulers is better than one originally developed and brought up on hindu ideology and culture. Another credible source told me that part of the film’s funding came from Pakistan. This just proves the point. This film has won standing ovation and some award at a film festival in France. This is not surprising as the western world has always looked down upon India as they know that we were far superior to them, and much of our vedic knowledge was created in Banaras. A film which shows dark realities of such a great and holy place is bound to strike a chord with these western audiences. And these people in Europe will like any film which has sex scenes in it (Gandu, for ex).

Masaan is an anti-national, anti Modi and anti Gajendra Chauhan film that portrays a very ugly picture of Banaras by telling ordinary stories of ordinary people. Banaras is about safeguarding great hindu tradition which the film says has been shaken by advent of modernity and industrialisation. This film also pays their tribute to India’s colonial masters by having railway pass through every now and then, and even a song about railways. I think this is essential on maker’s part so that the film becomes a strong contender for Oscars. This film might do good collection at Box office but will seriously hamper tourism industry in India as it maligns image of India’s greatest tourist destination, Banaras. Hence, in the interest of nation, I think this film needs to be banned.

Also, Bazinga!

Why Modi should not be talking about a Film University

Modi, in his speech today at Mumbai, made an interesting remark

“Given that I am in the land of films, I have to point out another thing, So many films are made every year. There are so many professionals. Couldn’t the UPA government and the Maharashtra government get together and set up a ‘Film University’ in Mumbai to commemorate 100 years of cinema? Couldn’t there be a university all about film technology and develop human resources for Bollywood?” Sources: Firstpost

It’s interesting because it is false. The I&B Ministry has set up Film and Television Institute in Pune and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. The National Institute of Design in Amdavad also offers a course in Filmmaking. Not to mention, there are few state run film schools and many such private organizations. Jadavpur Univeristy and JNU have programmes in Film Studies and research. Looks like Modi’s speech writer team forgot to gather these facts.

He saying “Bollywood is our treasure” in the same week which has seen release of Dhoom 3 is also funny. His idea of Indian Film scene apparently seems to be limited to Bollywood only. Perhaps that might have been the reason why regional film industry in Gujarat is underdeveloped. It would be inappropriate to blame Modi for this but if he was so concerned about nation’s film culture, he should’ve started it from his state and given a concrete “Gujarat model” for other states to follow. Also, if Modi expects central and Maharashtra government to cater to the needs of Bollywood, it’s an insanely wrong statement to make in first place. As a state or central governing body, their duty is to cater to the needs of entire state and nation, and not only Bollywood.

Perhaps, Modi also forgets that spaces like theatre or film schools do not solely thrive on logistical resources but require an equally creative and liberal atmosphere to work. The right wing cadre has a repute of disrupting film screenings, banning films and doing all sorts of nuisance under the name of “safeguarding Indian culture” when films challenging or contrary to their beliefs were made. Having banned films like Firaaq & Parzania based on aftermaths of Gujarat riots, I doubt Modi would be able to do a full justice in letting these spaces run the way they should. Last time BJP government was in power and Pramod Mahajan was the I&B Minister, he issued a notice to ban smoking on FTII campus. FTII campus then had “No Smoking” hoardings all over the places including Wisdom tree. The students smashed all these hoardings, turned the hoarding at Wisdom tree upside down and wrote “Ghatak was here!”.

Bottomline is, if a student from NaMo Film and Television Institute Univeristy wants to make a film on communal riot or lesbianism, she should be allowed to make that film. Given BJP’s intellectual regressiveness & Modi’s fascist background, this condition seems far from possible.

And lastly, there are film SCHOOLS, not film UNIVERSITIES!


Faith Connections and Bhoom Shankar

Pan Nalin is one of my favorite director and I particularly love the way he films and visualizes vast landscapes and creates a beautiful narrative through a minimalist yet powerful visual design. His recent documentary, Faith Connections, is a testament to that. I’m yet to watch it fully and hope the opportunity comes soon enough but while checking out its trailers on YouTube, came across this lovely song that is used in the film.

Faith Connections is a documentary film on Kumbh Mela, which is considered as world’s one of the most extra ordinary religious events. Kumbh Mela is also known for the Sadhus smoking Ganjaa and this song by One Drop Forward juxtaposed with the visuals of Sadhus smoking a joint celebrates that carefree attitude of this festival.

Though I’ve never tried smoking (forget smoking Ganja), this song is addictive so thought of sharing.