Deivendra Kumar A
It was during my post-graduation studies in journalism at the Central University of Tamil Nadu in Thiruvarur that one of my professors enquired about my view on the recent movie Asuran (2019), directed by ace filmmaker Vetrimaaran. Further, he asked me about the recent buzz that the particular film has created among the cinephiles regarding the Keezhvenmani Massacre. He kindled an urge in me to explore the nearby village named Keezhvenmani, an agrarian hamlet in Nagapattinam district, about 20 km from the university campus. This was my first journey to witness the essence of caste, which resulted in betrayal and violence, as a mode of punishment over subalterns.
As I had a prior understanding of the Keezhvenmani Massacre through literature and other scholarly works, I discerned that the flashback scenes of Sivasami (Dhanush's character) shown in the film Asuran, where the huts were burnt by the henchmen of the landlord, resembled the real episode of the massacre. Similar to the real-life incident, a group of comrades as well as villagers in the film plan, prepare, demonstrates, and execute a strike demanding the rights of the landless, downtrodden community. The flashback scenes in the film were dedicated to represent the true event of Keezhvenmani Massacre, which happened on December 25, 1968, where 44 Dalits including women, children and aged were burnt alive by the landlords.