Director: Amshan Kumar
Cast: Rajeev Kumar, Sheela Rajkumar and Manimegalai
Films on Dalit lives in Tamil cinema are not common with few exceptions like the recently released Pariyerum Perumal, which is about Dalit discrimination. It received rave reviews from critics as well as audiences.
Now, yet another flick Manushangada (Cry Human) that was premiered at the International Film Festivals has hit the marquee. The film is based on a true story heralding the rise of Dalit struggles in contemporary India against age-old human rights violations.
The film is set in the Ammiappan village in Tamil Nadu. Kolappan (Rajeev Anand) who works in a steel factory in Chennai receives a call from his native place informing him about his father’s demise. After reaching his village, he comes to know that he is not allowed to carry his deceased father through a common pathway in his village for burial, for Kolappan belongs to a lower caste. Kolappan seeks help from local officials like the RDO and the police, only to realize that they are equally casteist.
Refusing to bow down, Kolappan along with the support of his villagers moves the court. “You deny them equality when they are alive. At least give it to them after they die,” pronounces the Madras High Court judge. But Kolappan’s journey does not end there, as the upper caste people in connivance with police did not allow him to transport the body through the road. Whether Kolappan manages to give a dignified burial to his father forms the rest with the film, which ends in a heart-wrenching note.
The film has a solid plot, but the presentation in a documentary styled realism reduces the actual impact. It has been made on a shoestring budget and it shows. The jerky hand-held camera movements and jarring background scores also distract. Perhaps, Amshan wanted to portray the uncertainty surrounding the characters with his bumpy frames. Kudos to the director for not going overboard while representing caste issues, yet in an effective manner! The performances of all actors are adequate. The director drives home a point that in reality, the struggles of Dalits is persistent and relentless. The fight is not yet over and still continues!...