Monday, July 26, 2010

my clicks

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When children of the ‘upper’ caste drop out from school…

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Angadi theru: Soft killing weapon of celluloid

Angadi theru’ is the latest offering of Brahmanical experiments in the cultural landscape of Tamil or Indian cinema. Under the pretext of presenting ‘real’ life experiences of Dalits, a casteist capsule bomb is deployed, it is intended to satisfy the Brahmanical mind set of the film maker and aesthetes of upper caste audience on the one hand, and on the other it cultivates images of dalit identities that are deeply disturbing.
In Angadi theru, the plot revolves around sales persons of a textile business, living in a Chennai street. The film posits to discuss the grave issues of these people who are mostly Dalits.
Towards this, the film renders scenes of their dirty mess, toilets, diseases, madness, begging, death etc., Vasantha Balan, the director, claimed (in a television interview), Angadi theru as the story of “border lined” people.
The Dalit lead character Jyothilingam, hailed from a village and works as a sales man in a textile shop in Chennai, he is in love with Kani, a sales girl in the same shop. Marimuthu, his friend is in a relationship with Sophie and the camera moves through many such lives in Angadi theru. One Dalit in the film is characterized as a toilet cleaner, is nothing but the ‘appointment’ of the director according to Hindu Varnashrama, however, when he becomes economically independent, is shown as a comical character (The scene when the toilet cleaner exits from a train wearing a red T shirt).
Several forms of violence against the Dalit body and psyche are experimented in this film. Jyothilingam, is subjected to physical attacks from the supervisor of the textile shop, the Brahmin owner, as well as his co -worker. He is shown as being capable of reacting physically against the supervisor and the Dalit co-workers, but can’t even touch the Brahmin business owner. According to the brahmanical grammar and equations, the in-between physical fights are only by Dalits and OBCs. But at a time when one blow has to be given to a Dalit, the Brahmin owner appears and thrashes Jyothilingam and asks his subordinates to throw out that “dog’ from the job. This was when Jyothilingam reacts against the oppression in that textile shop.
Vasanatha Balan’s previous experiments with violence on the Dalits were successfully carried out in his film ‘Veyil’. In which the Dalit’s love, psyche and life are shattered and killed in different ways, and it went on to receive wide acclamation from the Indian and international audience and media as an intelligent presentation.
Death, madness and fate play a key role in defining Dalit lives and tragedies in Angadi theru; the sales girl who commits suicide is eccentric or mad before she ‘fell’ to death. The boy who loved her becomes mad and perishes. When Jyothilingam and Kani are entirely freed from the textile business, the film director attacks their life with ‘fate’ in the form of an accident. Kani loses both her legs and has to live a life of a cripple after that (nowadays it appears like a hobby on the part of casteist film makers to present Dalit characters as physically handicapped).
This overdose of tragedies in Dalit lives presents Dalits as born only to live a life of sorrow and tragedy without the capability of subjective thinking and fighting against the system. This is actually so far from the truth, Dalits take more positive decisions than just commit suicides, and they are not mentally fragile to go mad at short notices as depicted by this filmmaker.
Regarding women, it is humorous that the filmmaker presents the morale of chastity, dragging the film back to a century; the woman in the street who married a dwarf is shown to be so proud to have a kid born exactly like the father with crippled legs and claims her chastity is now unquestionable! Are the women in India living only to preserve their chastity? The moral texts of patriarchal Hindu philosophy are trashed upon the viewers and it is just pathetic. Vasantha Balan has to present this to an audience before Lumiere brothers. The film takes the sister of Kani, ‘when she becomes a woman’ (?) to a brahmanical temple structure for the coming of age ceremony. A woman in the temple tells that women during the menstrual period are not untouchable in that temple, but at the next shot, a Brahmin priest’s close up is shown. The camera can’t cheat, and the visuals slipped from the director’s brain.
A small child calls Marimuthu, a pig, in one scene (strangely the kid looked just about a year old); here the fat black body is treated as stupid and animal-like as usual. For strange reasons, Sophie, the Dalit girl who loves Marimuthu, has been cunningly omitted/ignored towards the end of the movie. The romantic relationship between Marimuthu and Sophie has been given a comical end, for, Marimuthu cannot write a poem to Sophie! Marimuthu’s inability to write a poem is because he is uneducated, one wonders then, if education makes everyone a poet, then all upper castes that have availed it, must indeed be poets!
The romance, support and friendship of Marimuthu and Sophie who are colleagues as well as in love are thus trivialized and killed in this film.
Reinforcing endless stereotypes the film tries to lay claim as a presentation of Dalits ‘real’ life. But real life is different from this reel, people from various oppressed back grounds in the caste society, including places such as Angadi theru are presently raising so many subjective political questions and debates, all of which the film Angadi theru cunningly avoids or ignores. Therefore the suppression of personal and political emancipation of Dalits becomes the primary ‘responsibility’ of this film.
No attempt is made to screen the political struggles, thinking and reactions from these border-lined people/Dalits against the brahmanical and casteist power structures. Dalits are capable of offering new political alternatives based on their lived experience, and are capable of emancipating themselves to higher strata in society through various struggles, than to be just passive recipients of sympathy, love, or fate, as rendered in Angadi theru. Besides their subjective experiences, they derive energy from Dr Ambedkar and so many other political struggles in different parts of India, against caste system. Director Vasantha Balan with his camera interferes in this crucial point in history and creates a notion that the Dalit identities and societies are capable only for reception of dull sentiments. And they can only react verbally as done by the lead character.
There is not even a single political question posed by the film’s creators, implicitly stating that they are not capable of ever questioning; the brahmanical hegemony of a corrupt business empire run by the owner, of the various illicit connections with other power structures like police and politicians. The film is simply frightened to raise such questions. And in the tears of love towards ‘tragic Dalits’, the raging fires of real political questions are being extinguished in the theatres.
Thus on closer examination, this ‘real life’ film positions the brahmanical theories of psychological hegemony by attacking Dalit identities and psyche with tools like violence, sympathy and fate. Previously, Indian film culture used these tools more evidently against dalits, minorities and women, but after being strongly criticized by Dalit intellectuals through reviews and in their political readings and discussions it has paved way for a rethink and inventing of new ‘equipments’ and ‘strategies’ to kill Dalits through tools of popular art and culture, besides their atrocities in mainstream society.
The homicides of Dalits physically and psychologically were previously experimented in Tamil films like Paruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, Vennila Kabadikuzhu, Veyil, Kadhal etc., and they received wide acclamation from brahmanical reviews. ‘Angadi theru’, is the latest in this panorama, shrewder in its psychological planning of Dalit evacuation, which tends to be imperceptible but can be extracted on a closer reading.
‘Angadi theru’ is more dangerous than established brahmanical films of directors like Maniratnam who made ‘Raavan’, and Shankar who created ‘Annyan’, ‘Indian’ and ‘Gentleman’. The film literally pats on the shoulders, hugs Dalits, and pretends to be highly sympathetic towards the tragic experiences of the Dalits. This is most deceitful and is aimed at belittling the agency of Dalits as resisting voices against the casteist Indian society. The anti caste political debates are presently cautious of such presentation of sympathy/failures/tragedies/fate on dalits.
Streaming from the brahmanical social psyche new trends in cinema showers sympathy on dalit identities, it masks itself as a middle/common/alternate/secular cinema and behaves as a positive change in the mainstream cultural industry. The Indian film aesthetics will not be free from such a grammar of filmmaking and it is extremely pathetic of them to market tears of Dalit lives in public spheres.
In nineteen eighties and nineties, there were a stream of so-called common man’s/middle class movie culture in Malayalam which were deep rooted in nairised or brahmanical aesthetic sense of Kerala. These films especially by directors like Sathyan Anthikad, Sreenivasan and Lohithadas were widely acclaimed as common man’s movies, but paved their way for more highly explosive casteist films and the result was a complete destruction of Malayalam films, they being entirely brahmanical in content when it reached the new millennium. In the present scenario, Angadi theru in Tamil movies is doing a similar job, preparing to breed more explosive casteist movies in future and is thus most dangerous, along with the many brahmanical formulations like Anyan and Dasavatharam.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cinema Paradiso

Pazhayangadi Prathibha talkie was the institution which socialized the different classes of humanity like the tamils in Kerala, scavengers, beggars, sex workers, drug addicts, smokers, dalits, teenagers etc., These different sections of society ended up in the smoky hall of Prathibha talkies after their every day’s affairs. The patriarchal/brahmanical, socialization and streaming of dreams on celluloid, persuaded the different classes to move towards this talkie was the evolution from feudalized art viewership of older times. Prathibha talkies metamorphosized the style of viewership only by including more classes of society who had money, unlike the enjoyment in the older times even though it was still brahmanical. Money reduced the distance of untouchability in Prathibha talkie. Still, sex workers, tamils, dalits, beggars were bench viewers of Prathibha. A huge part of this money were gone to the elite/ brahmanical societies who owned Prathibha talkies and producers/directors/distributors/ actors of movie industry. Unlike Kadhakali in old age and other feudal arts which were only the privilege of brahmanic society where others were expelled, those who had their money to buy ticket entered into Prathibha tand the paradox was those who have less money sat on the front raw. In its long journey in the history of Pazhayangadi in Kannur and film industry, Prathibha talkie struggled and succeeded as a C class theatre in its struggle for survival through the implementation of DTS and rejuvenation of the theatre system according to the modern scenario.

It was in the year 2000 the film “Kinnarathumbikal” released in Prathibha. The film was house full on a second show when we wached and was rejuvenation for many third class theatres in Kerala which were struggling for their survival. Prathibha talkies on that second show became a place and reign of culture of patriarchy in a Kerala village. Women in Pazhayangadi waited for their husbands/fathers/brothers to serve their dinner, but they were watching other women Shakeela who was treated as a prostitute by themselves in Prathibha. Some intellectuals sat in Prathibha by lighting a Dinesh beedi as if they were to study the feminist politics of Kinnarathumbikal. Communists and Gandhians forgot their political ideologies and clashes in front of this woman. When in between there was a power failure, men scolded projector operator as “mother fucker”. There was complete unity in diversity by the patriarchy in virtual raping of Shakeela. Those who know each other, like friends, relatives, just smiled each other and didn’t talk. Somebody cracked a joke that if he gets a brassier of Shakeela he could buy his grains from ration shop. And some one in a corner loosened his underwear and was ready for masturbation. (In A class theatres in Kannur lady sex workers did this for men for money in theatre halls while playing movies). After a “bit” was completed they all had their foot prints on the seats in front of them. The hero in “Kinnarathumbikal” massaged the breasts of Shakeela and the viewers had their heavy breath. And the paradox was that the boy had committed suicide after the film released due to shame from his own “men” society in his native in Thalasery.

In the same year there was another movie “ Narasimham” released in Malayalam which was enjoyed by Malayalee in their living rooms. Father, mother, brothers and sisters enjoyed together the dance of the actress Alphosna. They didn’t find any sort of vulgarity in the song “dham tha nakka thillam”. The damn hypocrisy prevailed in the so called cultured family scenario of Kerala treated Shakeela as a prostitute and they had a voyeur look at the legs of Mohanlal together with Alphonsa in Narasimham. And they clapped for the most degraded dialogue by Mohanlal’s character “I need a hug in the misty night....and to cry when I am dead....” The masculinity of Mohanlal was a celebration in the social and individual spheres of Malayalam society which became fertilizer for the growth of fanatic Hindu psyche development of Kerala.

Sree lakshmi was another talkie in Vengara which had a distance of one kilometer from Prathibha. Sreelakshmi screened so many Kungfu pictures for the survival and were having a good audience. Jet lee, Jackie Chan, Ian bow and Samo Hung fought on the screens of Sree lakshmi. The audience clapped for Enter the dragon, Police story, The rebel, My father is a hero, Armed for action etc., The first shows were filled approximate to three fourth of Sree lakshmi’s hall. In between some spicy English movies rolled on. It was on an English movie, when all the sexy scenes were over after the interval, all were moving out of the theatre, one guy told to his friend: “We should know the story.. and watch till the end”. Sreelakshmi struggled a lot by screening some tamil movies besides Kungfu, English porns, underworld English porn films by Jai-tevan/Sajjan, but failed. When the new culture of porn CDs and internet came in the cultural realm Sreelaskhmi failed and the talkies was closed. Sreelakshmi, like a sex worker/feminine self satisfied the sexual/patriarchal intimate feelings of generations and received their masturbations on face and died.

Sreesakthi talkies collapsed on a rainy second show night when it played Vaishali, on the screen. Inside the screen Vaishali was dancing in front of Rishyasringan for rain showers and outside was heavy raining and storm and while men were raping the body of Vaishali. People got frightened and ran to different places for their shelters. Now days, people flew more to the bar nearby than Sreesakthi talkies. It had the culture of male domination/patriarchy in the eighties or before that for the Hindi and Tamil movies were not viewed by woman communities in these theatres or they never dared to do that. Woman, families and societies of villages around Pazhayangadi moved to Prathibha and sreesakthi on their vishu, Christmas and Onam to watch ‘family’/‘accepted’ movies. They Clapped Prem Nazir for his CIDs and Romance, Mohanlal and Sreenivasan for their jokes based on color, culture, caste creed and education, Mammootty for his briefcase male dominated family men and police officers. They treated Mohanlal as their family members and Sreenivasan as a complete failure l from a nearby Colony or so. People laughed a lot by correlating the dalit body language of Sreenivasan with his failures in “Vadakkunokkiyanthram” and “Thalayanamanthram” and treated him as a Charlie Chaplin which was paradoxical and a historical humor in the film viewership culture of Kerala. And reviewers rewarded are Mohanlal as a common man who portrayed Nair/Namboodiri male showenisms on the screens of Prathibha, Sreesakthi and Sreelakshmi (Sreenivasan was not in their common man’s list as a performer on screen/but was a common man’s script writer who created roles Nairised/brahmanised roles for Mohanlal and stories for Sathyan Anthikaad) .

The other theatres like Neruvambram National, and Pilathara Sangham also were closed due to economic liability. Pariyaram Smitha, Ezhilode sreedurga etc., are there for name And it was in eighties and in early nineties people from different parts of Kannur flowed towards Chirakkal Praksh , a theatre were played porn bits on the intervals of noon shows. It was on one day, when we looked back while watching a bit, a post man on uniform was standing on the door covering his face up to nose by a towel and watching the bit after interval for just ten minutes...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dalit homicides as Celebration in Tamil cinema

The current psychological war against dalits in Indian cultural realm is fought by the brahmanical hegemony and ideology with inventions of newer psychological tools especially in cinema. It is evident in the texts of acclaimed tamil films which are celebrated as the depiction of village and real life outlets. These so called new generation tamil industrial cinema also revolves round the dichotomy of life/killing, elites/dalits, happiness/tears etc., and avoids the different complex political aspects of these two sided presentations. Killing of dalit identities and dalit bodies  in the films like Veyil, Kadhal, Pruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, Vennila KabadiKuzhu etc., are cunningly avoided in the intellectual discourses and are celebrated as refreshements in tamil film culture in the realm of presentation and text. These films are read as the depiction of reality of village and dalit life which were neglected by the Indian cinema seems to be paradoxical. In the close analysis, these are nothing but the rebirth of feudal attacks against dalits prevailed in the past and is converted to a psychological style through the texts of these films. Brahmanical ideologies and economical powers attack the mindset of dalits and suppressed with new tools of killing of dalit bodies and characters and sympathizing through these films. The homicides or madness of dalit identities in the aforesaid films are on the one hand an indication of threat by the brahmanical hegemony to the subalterns that “you are being killed again” in the texts of cinematic expressions for this medium is largely influenced to the subaltern societies especially in Tamilnadu. Brahmanism assumes that it will make the downtrodden to think once again for a political fight to reach their standards of knowledge, money, living and power. Besides dalits cannot evolve with an alter texts in the main stream industries of Indian cinema with a positive political texts for they have lack of economical resources for film productions even though they are moving in a correct direction politically in the intellectual discourses which frightened the brahmanical ideologies in India in the present scenario . The irony is that these films are highly welcomed in the Kerala/Tamilnadu society as a versus element against the feudalized Malayalam/Tamil films and the complex political/psychological/sociological/economic characters of killings is really ignored and are sympathized at dalits being killed again and again.

Films like Veyil (directed by Vasantha Balan) and Kadhal (directed by Balaji Shakthivel) are produced by Sankar, the director who is considered as the most eminent commercial directors of Indian film industry. From his first film Gentleman onwards he streamed the pictures of brahmanical ideology on the screen. In his films like Gentleman, Indian, Muthalvan, Annyan and Sivaji, he used the brahmanical lines of ideologies like amassing wealth, killing, one man rule, and one man liberation which are fanatic and fascist which followed the route of Hindu feudalism in the Indian spectrum. He gained the name as a good “producer” by presenting the films like Veyil and Kadhal as down to earth movies. Shankar grabbed a clean image in the dialogues/discourse of mainstream intellectual and cultural industry by the production of these films. But in the close examination of the film Kadhal, provides with the underlined but clear textual message that if a dalit strive for an inter caste marriage, the result may be madness and the feudal energy prevails has that sort of power and back ground to attack them brutally and make them mad and to roam around. The subaltern mechanic role played by Bharat has one of the most pathetic “ending” since the evolution of Indian film for he happened to be a dalit and hailed from a slum. Unlike all other feudal heroes of Indian cinema he is depicted as a coward and is always in doubt about his lady lover and her relatives. In Veyil, Murukesan played by Pasupathy has a series of failures and “killings” in his life. He fails as a family man, lover, and human being in the movie. In the saga of Murukesan his inter caste love affair with an elite girl brutally ends in the suicide of her. The psychological posturing of this incident is nothing but inter caste affairs by elites especially to uneconomical dalits must be killed. Murukesan in Veyil and the mechanic boy in Kadhal, both being as dalits have the same mode of transformation of failures, violence against them, madness and killings.

The inter caste relationship in Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu (directed by Susindhran) and Paruthiveeran (directed by Amir Sulthan) are also being killed by the creators of both of these films. In Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu the dalit hero Marimuthu who was on the road to his ultimate victory in Kabadi competition and love affair is being killed. It was pictured as Marimuthu is being killed in an accident at the end of a Kabadi match. The character has inter caste love relationship and the girl doesn’t even know what happened to Marimuthu. Eventhough he was heroic his character is molded as inferior in all aspects except his confidence in Kabadi tournament. In Paruthiveeran there is the same text of dalit narration of characters. The protagonist is a hero in a village named Paruthi. The end of this character is brutal, pathetic and tragic. A dalit woman who is considered as a rogue is brutally killed as untold in Indian film history covering her in a sack and butchering her body. Pruthi veeran’s father who had an inter caste marriage is killed in an accident. Paruthiveeran’s lover Muthazhaku, who is from an elite caste family, is gang raped and killed by some lorry drivers. Paruthiveeran suicides after she is being killed. In Veyil and Paruthiveeran, the women who loved two Dalit identities are being killed.

In Subramaniapuram (directed by Sasikumar) killing of dalits has new brutal presentations. The homicides in the film were shock to the South Indian audience. In Subramaniapuram the elite caste girl who is the lover of the protagonist, Jai, becomes the tool for his homicide by her relatives. This theme was entirely different and shocking to the receivers of the film. She cannot do anything while her hero is stabbed to death in front of her. The Dalit character and the friend of Jai, Kanja Karuppu is the cheating element. Knife is piercing in the dalit body of Jai again and again. The inter caste marriage in this film also is blocked by these killings. And the dalits are pictured as the most violent and those who do the biggest violence are also dalits, ie. the receivers and donors are subalterns. This dichotomy denies further of different complexities of socialites like how dalits become violent, and who makes dalit as violent and who are the behind the curtain players.

One of the significant psychological characters that paved the success for these films are the sympathies gained from the audience to these characters. These characters remained in the mind of audiences as dark memories. They lived in the mind of people. But it is not empathy or confrontation with those characters. Or it is not the political analysis of the social formation of these characters. It is due to mere sympathy towards them. But on the other hand the brahmanical mass psyche of Kerala/Tamil societies enjoyed these killings underneath. Killings of dalits, their disability and madness are secretly enjoyed and celebrated in the Indian mass/mad psychology. And it is a trick of Brahmanical hegemony to highlight these films as a refreshment of Indian film texts. These are nothing but the celebration of homicides of dalits and subalterns.

Monday, April 19, 2010


ഉണ്ടക്കായ് ഭാസ്കരന്‍, മുമ്പിലെ മൂന്ന് ബെഞ്ചുകാരെ മാത്രം പടിപ്പിച്ചത് കൊണ്ടാണു പുറകിലിരുന്നു വിജയന്‍ പൂജ്യം വെട്ടിക്കളിച്ചത്.

നക്ഷത്രങ്ങള്‍ താഴെയിറങ്ങി പുതിയ വാനം പുതിയ ഭൂമി എന്ന സ്വപ്നങ്ങള്‍കു ചൂട്ടാകും എന്നു കരുതിയാണു മുദ്രാവക്യം വിളിച്ചത്.

പ്രണയം ഒരു മഞ്ഞക്കൊടിയുമെന്തിയ കപ്പലുമായി വരും എന്ന ഉറപ്പിലാണ് മൂത്രപ്പുരയൊഴികെയുള്ള ചുവരുകളില്‍ അവളുടെ പേരെഴുതിയിട്ടത്.

വാര്‍ പിന്റെം തേപ്പിന്റെം പണിക്കു അച്ഛന്റെ കൂടെ പോയതു കൊണ്ടാണു പ്രീ ഡിഗ്രിക്ക് തോറ്റത്.

"പ്രീഡിഗ്രി അത്ര മോശം ഡിഗ്രീ അല്ലെന്ന്"
എന്നെ ആശ്വസിപ്പിക്കാന്‍ അച്ഛന്‍ പറഞ്ഞ് തന്നതാണ്
പിന്നീട് ബീകോം ഫസ്റ്റ്ക്ലാസ്സ് ആയ ദാസനൊട് പറഞ്ഞത്.

അതിലെന്തിത്ര ചിരിക്കാന്‍ ?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


ആണും പെണ്ണും വേറെ
പാട്ട പെറുക്കുന്ന തമിഴന്മാര്‍ പുറത്ത്
ചിലപ്പോള്‍ മീന്‍ കാരുടെ കൂടെ അടുക്കളപ്പുറത്തൊരിടം
കുട്ട്യൊള്‍ ജാക്കിയുമായി മുന്‍ ഭാഗത്തെവിടെയെങ്കിലും
ചിലപ്പോള്‍ കാര്‍ നോരുമുണ്ടകും ഒരു കൂട്ടിനെയ്...
പുകവലി നിഷിദ്ധം
ചര്‍ ദ്ദില്‍ കോരാനും കുളിപ്പിക്കാനും ഡബിള്‍ ബെല്ലിനും ചങ്കരന്റെ ചെക്കന്‍
മലയാളം മാഷും ഭാര്യ ദേവകി ടീച്ചര്‍ ക്കും മുമ്പിലൊരു സീറ്റ്
ദൂരെ കിഴക്കുദിക്കും മാണിക്യചെമ്പഴുക്ക-മോഹന്ലാലിന്റെ പാട്ട്
പടിക്കാന്‍ പോകുന്ന കുട്ട്യൊള്‍ നിക്കട്ടെ...കാര്‍ ണോമ്മാരിരിക്കട്ടെ
പോക്കറ്റടിക്കാരനെ കിട്ടിയാല്‍ പോകുന്നോര്‍ ക്കല്ലാം മേടാം
പുറത്തേക്ക് കടക്കാനാഗ്രഹമില്ലാത്തവര്‍ കായി
പുറകിലൊരു എമെര്‍ ജെന്‍ സി വാതിലുമായി
ഒരു തറവാട് ഗ്രാമത്തിലൂടെ യാത്ര തുടരുന്നു.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Kallen Pokkudan with Mayilamma, activist in Plachimada against Coca Cola. Photo by Vinod Kumar

The activities of Kallen Pokkudan who planted and preserved mangroves for the last two decades are the alternate dalit and environmental politics differ from the established/brahmanical one. But the established/brahmanical cultural reading and media look this man as nostalgic one man figure who preserves mangrove forests. Kallen Pokkudan himself fights against this romantic thought and declares that his environmental actions are reactions against brahmanical way of life and thinking, which supports caste system and suppression in India.  The doings of Kallen Pokkudan has more significance because he tries not only to balance the eco system, but preserves the ecological variety of rivers for the lively hood of the people like dalits live by side and  politically attack the hidden politics in the  brahmanical ideology of Vegetarianism. He asks, "How can  dalits who live by the riverside can be vegetarians? Their only resource is river. Their food is nothing other than fish..."  The  brahmanical attack on non vegetarianism is not only on food habits, but that is a political attack on dalits and other downtroddens those who are non vegetarians.

Kallen Pokkudan who was born to a dalit peasant family of Ezhome village in Kannur had the experience of feudal suppression and attrocities from Muslim and Hindu lords from the childhood itself. Unlike others he reacted against the cruelty of lords against the dalit peasant workers and farmers. He was attracted towards communist party and became an active worker of the Communist party. But later he realized that even in Communist party which speaks of socialism; there is discrimination on the basis of caste.

After leaving the party, he started planting mangroves. He planted more than a lakh of mangrove trees in the wetlands all over Kerala. He campaigned for the preservation of mangrove forests. At the beginning people called him as mad, and environmentalists did not notice him. But later, organizations, political parties, environmentalists, scientists were keenly observing this man and his activities.

Kallen Pokkudan says, while planting mangroves, he is preserving the whole ecosystem and the society. The varieties of fish and other water beings lay their eggs in mangrove forest and life gets flourished in the river. This helps the community of fishermen and farmers for their livelihood.  Mangrove forests are shelters of different varieties of birds also. But the land mafia now days in Kerala destroyed the mangrove forests and built up flats by filling wet lands in the riversides. In 2004 when the tsunami was hit, the areas having mangrove forests were least affected by the tides.

Kallen Pokkudan has written a biography “Kandlakadukalkidayil ente jeevitham” (My life in mangrove forests). But the book edited by Thaha Madayi deals only with the life of him related to Mangorve forests. His son, Sreejith Paithalen realised that he has a greater political life and that has to be recorded. Now Sreejith Paithalen completed the book “Kallen Pokkudan, the political life” about his father’s political history in Ezhome village and its significance in the subaltern societies of the whole world. The book discusses the Dalit and subaltern life in Ezhome village and their fights and struggles which was not recorded by the brahmanical historians in India. Kallen Pokkudan has written another book “choottachi” describing the fish verities of rivers in Kannur. His elder son Aanandan who is an school teacher edited the book.

As an environmentalist and a political thinker he received many psychological and physical attacks from different corners of the society. Even then he interferes with various issues in Kerala like farmers agitations in Muriyad, and agitation against Coca Cola in Plachimada, etc., Kallen Pokkudan is living like a mangrove tree rendering life to the society and generations.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Soumya, director of the documentary "Twinkle twinkle little caste" receiving the Dr. Ambedkar foundation award in Mancheri, Kerala.

“Caste has been annihilated in Kerala” is the biggest lie that heard from different social, cultural and political spheres of Kerala. Those who preach ‘caste has been annihilated’  can’t understand what really caste is. It is the psychological suppression of dalits in various instances, stages and spheres of life and expelling from power, money and knowledge in the present world. The people who enjoy all the benefits of caste system avoid the debates against caste in kerala and are in the classical idea that “Untouchables are now no longer untouchables”. But it was proved to be wrong in a Nursery school in Malappuram.

Some upper caste parents withdrew their kids from the nursery school of Oothalakandy village in Mancheri taluk of Malappuram district. They told a strange reason ; “our children will lose their culture by interacting with the sc/st students”. They sent  their kids to other nursery schools were elite castes study. And one upper caste parent who is an school teacher said “his kid is really getting bored while studying there”. What may be the culture of a home that ‘produces’ a kid who is bored while playing with other kids?

The teacher of the nursery, Rejitha, strongly reacted against this nasty custom of thrashing caste system on the kids . She presented this issue in different venues and added that the kids from the dalit colonies need  more attentions for their education and other needs. But her voices were ignored by the  political leaders, local government bodies  and other authorities. At last, she told the issue to her neighbor Soumya, who was a Mass Communication student of mine. We decided to do the documentary about this and went to the village for the shoot. We took the interview of two Panchayat members who were leaders from Communist and Congress parties. They opined; there is no caste discrimination, but students were moving from this nursery school to  English medium nurseries. Mr. Narendran of Oothalakandy colony cried in front of the camera and said, the people of the dalit colony in Oothalakandy are being ill treated by the external society.

But Rejitha teacher clearly attacked the caste system prevailing in that area and added the political leaders also support this. She said; as a Nursery school teacher she is having contact with almost everybody in the village and she knows what is happening there. There are all sorts of psychological and social suppression against the people of the Colony. Elite castes used to  remark against the colony by saying “they will never develop....we have done so many things to them....” She asks “Who are these people to define the people of colonies....? Are these people  developed...? I know what is happening in the backdrop of every elite caste house in the area....” She says English medium is not the reason for upper castes to withdrew  from the nursery, but it is caste for she is a degree holder and knows very well to teach English. And one parent who is a school teacher who had withdrawn his kid from the nursery school ‘suggested’ some development schemes for the upbringing of the people of the colony. He told us to build some “cultural centers or libraries”. Teacher reacted ; " people who have culture may talk about the cultural centers".

The documentary was screened before the Media in Malappuram in a press conference. The situation there was unimaginable. Soumya, the director of the documentary and Rejitha teacher were expecting some positive reactions for they were presenting a serious issue. But some of them taught Soumya how to make a documentary. But the documentary which was  'standard less' according to some of them grabbed four awards in from different realms of society including film festivals. Soumya got the fellowship for the best upcoming director in the VIBGYOR short international film festival of Thrissur.

The documentary made so many controversies in Malappuram. Rejitha teacher  got so many threats from different corners of the society. And there was an allegation from the political spheres that it was a planned effort by Rejitha teacher to demoralize the people of Mancheri. On the other hand,  people of  the colonies started questioning political leaders for their grants and rights in the meetings of local governing bodies. This documentary broke a great myth established by the Communist party that caste has been eradicated in Kerala. The issue was discussed in the international level by the The link of the discussion is You can watch the documentary in the following link

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Peringeel is a small village of Ezhome Panchayat in Kannur district of Kerala.  The name Peringeel came from the expression Perumkeezhil which means extreme lowest. My father was born and brought up in this village. The people of Peringeel were treated as extreme lowest people in caste scenario of social culture in Kerala.

Peringeel, the shelter of  farmers belong to the Pulaya community, is a place surrounded with full of rivers and paddy fields . Larger share of areas are marshy places namely kaippad and the other portion paddy fields. Peringeel is one of the few villages in Kannur and Kerala having cultivation of rice in Kaippad besides the paddy field. It is one of  the few villages having excellent variety of rice cultivation in Kerala using the conventional farming methods without the influence of green revolution that spoiled the Indian agriculture.

Now, a total of 10 families are occupied here. Years ago the place was crowded with some 25 families . But no government schemes reached here, many of the families here got converted to Christianity and shifted to the nearby hillsides at Kottila and Pilathara in search of better job and life. Years back, in this locality there were only tatched huts made of mud bricks and grass and now also the situation is not different.

Before the Indian independence, the people here were the slaves of landlords. They had to work according to the tenants of law in day and night. The King of Kolathunadu-Valapattanam was the Supreme owner of whole of the land. He distributed the land under him to various Namboodiri, higher caste Hindu people. They again distributed to the sub tenants, like Mappilas, Muslim lords Thiyyas and Nairs, higher caste Hindus. The Sub tenants would arrange cultivation in the land under them choosing the slave people from the locality. Very minute quantity of payments was made towards wages. In fact a feudal system was prevailing at that time.

But in monsoon the entire area will be covered with water and flood. Everywhere the footpaths are muddy. People cannot ever move without country boat. In rainy season people vacates their houses and reach their safe places for rescue. In spite of flood and water, drinking water has to be brought from the nearby villages crossing rivers and bunds and walking kilometers. Because of marshy and filthy area and surrounded by rivers bearing salt water, drinking water is not available in the wells here. They have to rely upon pipe water, which are not properly supplied all the time.

Underworld memories of Untouchables, the documentary is a 'payback' to this village from where I learned compassion for other beings. Underworld memories of Untouchables is the memories of three generations of people in the village of Peringeel. They speak about the grievances, attorcities, discriminations thrashed by caste system in their life and society. The documentary politically analyses the present condition of caste system in Kerala, which is otherwise known as God’s own country. The documentary clearly states that it is power; education and money are the three important things that can uphold a suppressed society.