Dalit portrayal in cinema: Brahminical ideology has caused filmmakers to present a limited view of the community

Dalits and caste discrimination have frequently been subjects in Indian cinema, from Achhut Kanya (1936) to Sairat (2016), and the general consensus about these films is positive, that they are courageous attempts to deal with a burning issue that has stubbornly refused to be resolved, and will probably continue to resist resolution for a long time to come.

Still, it would be useful to look at the representation of Dalits in Indian film, as it could tell us something about dominant perspectives on social victimhood in the country that could well stretch beyond film, perhaps into every aspect of culture.

If one were to consider international films dealing with social conflict and victimhood, one could place them under several political categories, like colonialism (Battle of Algiers), fascism (The Great Dictator), capitalism (Wall StreetErin Brockovich), Stalinism (Man of Marble), Maoism (To Live), patriarchy (The Life of Oharu), the films coming usually from countries (or set in countries) where the particular form of political oppression is pertinent.

An aspect common to the aforementioned films is that while they all deal with victims, they try to present well-rounded pictures of the situations they engage with.

Much of The Great Dictator is taken up by life before the spectre of fascism gains ground, with the barber’s dealings in the ghetto.

They pursue mimesis in that they try to base their political discourses on social observation and the victimhood of the protagonists by forces without is only an aspect in their lives, although an extremely important one.

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