I support and salute the Tamil feature film "MADRAS" by Ranjit, an young filmmaker who had previously made an excellent film "ATTA KATHI".
I hear a maligning campaign going on against MADRAS. I fully disapprove that. Let us not be cynical. Let us not be castist too. Let us wake up to the new cinema.
MADRAS is a Dalit cinema. It is a political cinema. One can clearly feel the sensitivity and pride of the director towards the characters and their lives. One hardly finds a politically wrong shot, a line or an expression in the film. The screenplay of the second half may not match the first half; because the first half is too good.
I like the characters, the setting, the love, the action, the humor, the innocence, the anger, the dignity, the persistence, the aspiration and the hope the film brings out. It is also a film that celebrates the lives of urban poor. It does not demand pity. It does not provoke hatred. It pins you down and forces you to open up to the stories of black people of Chennai who have their language, culture, food, customs, rituals, aesthetics and a way of life.
Chennai is not just coffee, cricket, karnatic music, bharathanatyam and idli. It is also about beef, fish curry,rap dance, tappattam and football. The film MADRAS talks about the “other” Madras which hardly gets represented in the popular Tamil film or any other media with respect and joy.
The film is about a huge wall located in a Dalit settlement in Chennai through which the local political leaders want to dominate the inhabitants of the locality. The film brings out the struggle of the Dalit youngsters who want to become independent from the clutches of the party politics which always looks at them as a vote bank or a mob.
There are strong women characters, who are not glamor queens or item numbers or weak crying babies. They are thinking individuals who have their opinions, the will power and fun. There is so much love in the film between friends, lovers, married people, parents and among the community. There is a rap dance group which represents the dance culture of north Madras.
There have been plenty of Tamil films made by "star" directors which insult, betray, hurt and type cast women, children, elderly people, workers, poor, mentally and physically challenged and other marginalized people. MADRAS is particularly excellent as it takes one step ahead in portraying the original inhabitants of Madras!
I also appreciate Karthi, the actor who has done the role of Kali, the protagonist for acting in the film as it has increased the production value and reach of the film MADRAS. You can see the film had a valid financial support while making as well as in promotion.
After a series of "new wave" Tamil films showing youngsters as irresponsible, violent, machismo and alcoholic, MADRAS for a change shows youngsters who want to take care of their family, who care about the society, who want to come up in the lives and who want to have decent and calm life.
Interestingly most of the recent machismo films were based on young men from backward caste background. They were also made by the directors from those backgrounds as well. MADRAS is about Dalit young men. It is also made by a Dalit filmmaker, if I am not wrong.
No wonder PMK leaders and other backward (!) caste leaders worry about Dalit boys in jeans and sun glasses!