Caste, Tamil Nadu and Vishwaroopam
By Sandhya Jain on January 30, 2013
Tamil actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan’s woes, ostensibly related to Muslim protests over an unflattering portrayal of the community in his Rs. 125-crore blockbuster, Vishwaroopam, could be linked to his advocacy of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram as the next Prime Minister. There could also be covert disapproval to the demeaning of Brahmin women in the movie.
As recently as December 30, 2012, the Finance Minister attended a book release function in Chennai (‘P Chidambaram – Oru Paaravai’, a compilation of articles by popular writers on him), where Kamal Haasan startled the gathering by expressing a wish to see P Chidambaram become the next Prime Minister. Celebrities at the event included DMK president M Karunanidhi (who endorsed this view), superstar Rajinikanth, poet Vairamuthu and Tamil Nadu Congress president BS Gnanadesikan. Political observers feel this did not go down well in some quarters.
An unpalatable aspect of the film – totally ignored by the secular media – is the debasement of Brahmin women and their cultural practices. Kamal Haasan, like many actors and politicians in the State, has for years thrived on anti-Brahmin diatribes. Thus, Vishwaroopam has a scene where the hero tells the heroine, a Brahmin and a vegetarian, to eat a chicken and tell him how she finds it.
He addresses her as “paapathi”, which has upset this community. While this is the Tamil word for Brahmin women just as parpaan denotes Brahmin men, under the Dravidian movement the word has long degenerated in an abusive term for Brahmin women. In fact, a decade ago, a fringe party painted words to the effect that “Brahmin women should be made common property” on walls around Chennai.
Tamil Nadu, in fact, appears to be a caste cauldron being stirred by unknown agents provocateurs. In the recent violence in Dharmapuri in October 2012, PMK founder S Ramadoss charged that certain caste leaders were instigating their young men to selectively marry girls of OBC communities. At that too, there considerable literature was circulated about marriage to OBC girls.
The PMK said they opposed instigated inter-caste marriages and love dramas, and not inter-caste marriages per se. On December 2, 2012, the PMK passed a resolution expressing anxiety over the abnormal divorce rate in couples with inter-caste marriages, and demanded that a High Court judge be asked to scrutinise inter-caste marriages registered in the past two years.
Tensions over the stalking and luring of young women are currently agitating Tamil society. In the wake of the increased national sensitivity after the Delhi gang-rape, some issues deserve scrutiny. The role of the media and the film industry in aggravating caste tensions in society, with hideous repercussions on the lives of young girls, deserves attention.
In Dharmapuri, the professionally successful intermediate caste groups are up in arms over the ‘targetting’ of their young women, who often come to grief later. On the face of it, Scheduled Caste hamlets were attacked after a woman from an OBC community eloped with an SC man. But locals resented the media coverage as false and exaggerated.
Friends who went to Sellan Kottai and neighbouring villages to find out what happened were told that the marriage reportedly took place on October 14, 2012, and the woman’s father committed suicide on November 7, about 23 days later, which they found suspicious.
Local residents said the tragedy was a culmination of many incidents in the past. The trouble reportedly began when a senior police official started appointing only his own caste-persons in police stations under him. This gave a boost to a particular political party and made life difficult for others. There followed a series of teasing, harassment and molestation of young girls in public, which drove many girls to stop going to school.
In many instances, girls of a particular group were lured by ‘friends’ in the name of love, taken by deceit to some place till their parents paid for their release. The katta panchayat (illegal kangaroo court) would intervene to get the girls released; the parents would pay up and avoid police complaints for the sake of the girl’s reputation. In some instances, the girls committed suicide after such trauma.
In Dharmapuri, the young woman was studying BSc (Nursing) in a nearby college. A young man, Class XII pass, befriended her, but when the woman’s father, Nagaraj, opposed the affair, she promised not to meet the youth again. Suddenly the couple eloped on October 13, and believing that they had married, Nagaraj let matters be.
It was only when the katta panchayat telephoned him and said his daughter was safe with them, that he understood the plot. The local police station, approached by Nagaraj, got involved in the negotiations. As too many people became involved in the case, and senior police officers learnt of the existence of the katta panchayat, matters spun out of control. The family lost huge money, their reputation was ruined, and the father committed suicide.
This enraged the villagers who took Nagaraj’s body to the main road and blocked it, demanding the arrest of the seven persons who conducted the katta panchayat. Fear led one group and a local police officer to quit the locality.
Violence broke out and matters escalated as some administration officials allegedly functioned with bias loyalty. Several persons, including minor boys who were friends of the girl’s brother, were arrested, but the existence of the katta panchayat was not brought up in court. This surprised even the senior police officers, as it had become an open secret.
The Dharmapuri incident has triggered demands for amendment of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. Senior politicians in Tamil Nadu admit that the law is discriminatory and prone to misuse, though they declined to give their names. Violence against women takes many forms; instigated caste-based stalking is a modern atrocity that deserves our attention.
இந்து முஸ்லீம் பாய் பாய்
நடனமாடிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் கமலஹாசன் மைக்ரோவேவ் அவனிலிருந்து சிக்கனை வெளியே எடுப்பார். “எங்காத்துக்காரிக்கு சிக்கன்னா ரொம்ப பிடிக்கும், எனக்கு அவளைப் பிடிக்கும். அதனால நானும் சிக்கன் செய்யக் கத்துண்டேன். மனாட்டியே மன்னவன் பாக்கியம்…. , ‘பாப்பாத்திம்மா’.. உப்புகாரம் எல்லாம் கரெக்ட்டா இருக்கான்னு பாத்துச்சொல்லு’ – இது விஸ்வரூபத்தில் ஆரம்ப காட்சிகளில் வரும் பிராமணக் காட்சிப்படுத்தல்.
ஆனால் கமல் சார், ஐயருங்க என்ன உங்க சகோதரர்களா? சட்டம் ஒழுங்கை சீர்குலைப்பேன்னு சொல்றதுக்கும், உங்க படம் ஓடினா தியேட்டர்ல்ல பெட்ரோல் குண்டு வீசரதுக்கும். அதனால அவங்க ஜாதியை நீங்க கிண்டல் பன்றது பத்தி உங்களுக்கு ஒன்னும் வருத்தம் வேணாம் சார். நீங்க ஒங்க குல்லா போட்ட சகோதரர்களை கொஞ்சி விளையாடுங்க. அடிச்சாலும் புடிச்சாலும் உங்களுக்கு அவங்க தானே சகோதரர்கள்.
ஆனா ஒன்னு கமல் சார்..குப்புற படுக்க வெச்சு பாய்மாருங்க உங்களை மிதி மிதின்னு மிதிச்சாலும் .’ இந்து முஸ்லீம் பாய் பாய் ந்னு காந்திக்கப்புறம் கதறக்கதற சொல்லிக்கிட்டுத் திரியர ஒரே ஆளு நீங்க தான் கமல் சார். நீங்க நல்லா இருக்கனும்.
ஆமாம் , மதச்சார்பற்ற வேறு நாட்டுக்குப் போகப்போ
றீங்களாமே….. பாத்து சார், பூமி உருன்டைல இருக்கற கோவணத்துன்டு சைசு நாட்டுக்கெல்லாம் சொந்தமா மதம் இருக்கு. ஒலகத்துக்கே கார்ப்பரேஷன் குப்பைத்தொட்டி மாதிரி எல்லா மதத்தையும் வெச்சிக்கிட்டு இருக்கறது இந்தியா மட்டும் தான் கமல் சார்…! அதனால இங்கெருந்து எங்கேயும் போய்டாம ஒங்க ‘பாய் பாய்’ சமாச்சாரத்த பாத்துக்கோங்க.
நீங்க இல்லாங்காட்டீ போன இந்தியாவுல பாய்மாருங்கள யாரு பாத்துப்பாங்க….!