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

The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... Read More...
Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV There is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the... Read More...
"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
I am someone who thinks in an Ayyankali thought: Vinayakan, best actor
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Dwija Aami and Sreerag Poickadan Malayalam actor Vinayakan has received the Kerala State government's Best Actor Award 2016 for the Malayalee film Kammatpadam, recently. His interview by... Read More...
Gandhi and the Structure of Dalit Everyday Life
Thursday, 09 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV As a point of entry, let us focus on the indictment that Manabendra Nath Roy made in his 1938 book on fascism with regard to the form and content of Gandhian politics: he... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Let’s read SFI as 'Students' Fascism of India': Dalit & Muslim Students of Kerala
Friday, 10 February 2017
  C Ahamed Fayiz Activists of Inquilab Students Movement were attacked by SFI hooligans at Government College, Madappally, Calicut today. Adhil Ali. A, a first year student who is pursuing BA... Read More...
“I Shan’t Die, I Shall Live And Win”: Story of An Adivasi Girl Student
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
  Rakesh Sanal "If I die, I will fail. I shall live and win. I very well know how tough it is. Hearing people speak of this nation as a democracy makes me laugh, for isn't it this nation which... Read More...
Dalit Man murdered in Kerala for 30 Rupees!
Monday, 27 February 2017
  This is a transcription of a news report, by Amesh, which originally appeared in Left Click News. It was translated from Malayalam by Dhanya Madhav. A Dalit man was brutally assaulted and... Read More...
Chalo Thiruvananthapuram – Wipe Out Caste Colonies! Reconstruct the Kerala Model!
Monday, 23 January 2017
  [Via Santhosh Kumar] On January 29, 2017 "Chalo Thiruvananthapuram" movement heralds from the protest fronts of Chengara with the mission to ensure equal justice for the marginalised in... Read More...
The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... 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