25 January, 2021

Cinema As Healing Balm

A film on caste oppression and honour killings has touched Tamil hearts

Cinema As Healing Balm

Karuppi, the black hunting dog, is merely a symbol. From its free-spirited roaming of the countryside to ­being tied down to the railway tracks to be crushed by the roaring wheels of a train, Karuppi exemplifies how those held captive by the manacles of caste are oppressed by the more powerful in society. The treatment meted out to his dog in the opening scene is literally extended over the next two hours to the hero—a law student from a village inhabited by Dalits. For its intense yet non-inimical portrayal of this constant struggle for basic social decency, the movie Pariyerum Perumal (The God Who Rides a Horse), named after the main protagonist, will go down as a water­shed moment in Tamil cinema.

Directed by debutant Mari Selvaraj, a Dalit filmmaker, the movie has proved to be a commercial success even while earning critical ­acclaim for treating a sensitive subject with great finesse. Its chosen method is not to raise the hackles of the elite castes, but to make them pause and ponder—especially about the recent spate of honour...



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