Returning to Om Puri starrers 'Aakrosh' and 'Sadgati'

 

Kshirod Nag

kshirod nagIn general perception, Om Puri is not only regarded as an exception in the commercial cinema of Bollywood but also praised for his portrayals, which supposedly speak out the social realities of the times. Two of the celebrated portrayals performed by him are Layanya Bhiku in "Aakrosh" and Dukhi in "Sadgati", representing the plight and agony of Tribals and Dalits respectively.

Aakrosh (1981), talks about the exploitation of the (Marxian notion of) "have-not" class, the tribals in the movie. Two important observations in the movie: (1) a tribal named Bhiku is so much disappointed of the exploitative system, he is not even able to speak out his disappointments in public, rather he chooses to vent his anger by killing his own dear ones; (2) the public prosecutor, who is a tribal himself (played by Amrish Puri) does not understand the "reality" of the incident and is trying to prosecute "his" fellow man, Bhiku. On the other hand, Bhaskar Kulkarni (played by Naseeruddin Shah) a Brahmin lawyer, is determined to rescue the innocent Bhiku from the faulty judicial process.

Sadgati (1982) narrates a story of caste prejudice where a Dalit named Dukhi is suffering from the Brahminical exploitation of labour. The suffering of Dukhi ends in his death, as an effect of incessant service to the social elite - a punditji, in this instance. Later on, the pundit realises his arrogance and the movie ends.

In both the characters, one can see how Bhiku and Dukhi are "helpless" and "speechless" about the exploitative mechanisms. The vernacular terms like "Lachaar", "Bebas", "Bechara", "Besahara" are suitable for these two characters, as per the imagination of the movie makers Govind 'Nihalani' and Satyajit 'Ray'.

Bhiku and Dukhi are Rational and They Talk Differently

Caste system is a reaction to the egalitarian principles of the Tribals and Dalits. In Ambedkar's terms, this reaction is a counter-revolution against the Buddhist philosophy. It means, prior to this hierarchical culture, people of democratic culture had a history of "nation" making. Equality, liberty and fraternity were benchmarks of this history. Without having a reasoning and rational mind one can not think of such democratic values. Hence, democratic people applied their scientific minds to build a nation with egalitarian values. Now, the struggle is going on to reclaim that democracy. Bhiku and Dukhi are not "bebas" or "lachaar", rather they know well how to reclaim those sidelined from history of democracy.

The Brahminical imagination could perceive the lachaari and bebasi in the eyes of Tribals and Dalits, but couldn't see the rational articulations of Birsa Munda, Ambedkar, Jaipal Singh, Kanshiram, Mayawati and so on.

Social Stigma and Market

Through these movies, one can see how caste stigma plays a vital role in terms of accessibility to market. The imagination of pundits always goes for profit maximisation out of the poverty of Tribals and Dalits. Prejudiced movie makers believe that Om Puri can perform a Tribal character better than a Tribal him/herself. In fact, the movie makers think of the profit from the characters they get, in the forms of awards and social recognition.

Deliberate Ignorance of Pundits

These movies were made during a period when Dalits and Tribals were accessing the political sphere not only to articulate their rights but also to remind the social elites of their historical blunders. Birsa Munda, Savitri Bai, Jyotiba and Ambedkar, were the role models for these articulate Dalits and Tribals like Kanshiram, Namdeo Dhasal and others. Following this trend, a large number of people of these sections entered into both knowledge making institutions like universities and administrative fields. Strong socio-political movements by them prove their belief in democracy and secular leadership. The reference point of their imagination comes from the values which talk about "morality based on equality" rather than "social irrationality based caste immorality". Thus, Tribals and Dalits talk differently.

 (This article was written as an assignment in the year 2012, during my MPhil in JNU)

~~~

 

 I am Kshirod Bihari Bharat Nag, pursuing PHD in Sociology in JNU, New Delhi. My research area includes Dalits, Public sphere and Indian Democracy. I am associated with UDSF on the campus. I am basically from Kalahandi district of Odisha.

Other Related Articles

सत्य, सत्याग्रह, शूद्र, दलित और भारतीय नैतिकता
Saturday, 28 January 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) सामाजिक राजनीतिक आन्दोलनों में एक लंबे समय से "आत्मपीड़क... Read More...
Uniform Civil Code & Ashrafiya obsession with Triple Talaq
Monday, 23 January 2017
  Ayaz Ahmad In the wake of upcoming assembly polls, the question of Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is being debated with traditional appeal to religious identity of Muslims & Hindus in their... Read More...
Unpartitioned nostalgia
Saturday, 21 January 2017
  Akshay Pathak 'Aman ki Asha', one of the many trendy Indo-Pak peace initiatives, could as well have been the title of a blockbuster from the Chopra brothers. Partition and Reunion as nostalgic... Read More...
Rejecting Victimhood, Reclaiming Resistance
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
  Joint pamphlet by BAPSA, SIO, YFDA on the occasion of Rohith's Shahadat Din [Distributed for 'Resistance March' against Institutionalized Brahmanism on 16 January 2017 in JNU, New Delhi] The... Read More...
Dalit MPhil Scholar Attacked by SFI Hooligans at MG University Kottayam
Thursday, 12 January 2017
  C Ahamed Fayiz A Dalit MPhil scholar has been brutally assaulted by SFI activists at Mahathma Gandhi University, Kottayam Campus. Vivek Kumaran from Kalady, who is a research student at School... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Poetry and Parochialism in Kerala: Sugathakumari opens a Pandora’s Box
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
  Umar. N The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, in his customary impish fashion rephrases Heidegger's oft-quoted dictum that 'language is the house of being' as 'language is the torture-house... Read More...
Dalit MPhil Scholar Attacked by SFI Hooligans at MG University Kottayam
Thursday, 12 January 2017
  C Ahamed Fayiz A Dalit MPhil scholar has been brutally assaulted by SFI activists at Mahathma Gandhi University, Kottayam Campus. Vivek Kumaran from Kalady, who is a research student at School... Read More...
Rejecting Victimhood, Reclaiming Resistance
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
  Joint pamphlet by BAPSA, SIO, YFDA on the occasion of Rohith's Shahadat Din [Distributed for 'Resistance March' against Institutionalized Brahmanism on 16 January 2017 in JNU, New Delhi] The... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more