Beyond ‘Brahminism’: The Transcending Cinematic Representation of Dalits in Article 15 and Jai Bhim
Dr Sucharita Sharma, Assistant Professor (Sr.) & Additional Head, Department of English at IIS (Deemed to be University), Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Dr Ankita Choudhary, Independent Researcher, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
The present study locates movies within a social, political and cultural context to present movies-as cultural products and social documents- embedded with the socio-political and cultural dynamics of the society. In the light of Louis Althusser’s concepts, movies are presented as vehicles of ideological dissemination. These cultural products, therefore, work as apparatuses or vehicles of certain beliefs, values and ideologies which are prominent in certain culture which, thereby, interpellate these ideologies into our consciousness with the aid of hegemony. These dominant ideologies divide the society between the core self of the nation and the ‘other’ minority identities which are marginalized.
The journey of the representation of Dalit in Indian cinema started with the 1936 movie Achhut Kanya. Since then, caste discrimination and Dalits have been prominent subjects for filmmakers. However, even after more than eight decades, movies on these subjects are biased portrayal targeting the commercial benefit, rather than piercing the stubborn issues of society. Although Dalit issues have been exposed by many filmmakers in the past decades, the usual Bollywood masala they used for a commercial recipe were superhuman-stunts, melodrama, and item songs for Bollywood tadka. By stereotyping them in the movies, filmmakers have almost erased their presence, making caste discrimination a more vulnerable subject.
This paper will bring into its ambit the narrativization of Dalit-scape creating its own space in Indian films in Hindi and other languages. It will closely examine the 2019 release Article 15, and the 2021 release Jai Bhim to interpret the transition of Dalit representation in Indian cinema. The movies’ makers have gone beyond merely representing a Dalit experience, and undertaken the subject more seriously, founding the Indian judicial system and Constitution of India as the core elements. The paper will further explore the inclusion of a new Dalit narrative that is against a conventional representation and beyond upper-caste descriptions. The study will explore the role of movies as ideological apparatuses with specific reference to these movies featuring the frequently marginalized and ‘other’ identities. The movies will be critically studied as texts depicting how cinema has rendered voice and agency to these subdued identities; thus, subverting the dominance of the narrative of ruling caste in politics and law and order. It will reconstruct the portrayal of Dalit narrative by theorizing anti-casteism through observing inclusion of Dalits established by the new Dalit discourse in Indian cinema.
Keywords: Other, Dalit, Anti-Caste, Brahminism, Marginalized, Constitutional Rights