Cinema is one of the most popular art forms across the world. Though cinema is often looked at as a form of entertainment, it’s more than that. Cinema depicts the thoughts of the maker, the representation of communities, and sometimes even as the voice of the oppressed. Hence, it’s never ‘just a movie’. Speaking of representation of communities, until recently Tamil cinema has been amicable to certain communities while being hostile to a particular section of people. The change is new, fresh, and very much visible. We see more movies that are politically and socially responsible. If wondering how the narratives changed, it’s because of one man, Pa. Ranjith.
Hailing from Avadi Chennai, Pa. Ranjith started his career with a romantic comedy ‘Attakathi’ to get himself to a place where his voice will be heard. The movie obtained commercial as well as critical success. From then on, Ranjith has been the man of change. His movies had a unique narrative from the usual. He has directed 3 movies since ‘Attakathi’. Every single movie has a different story of its own. Yet, the message has been the same, loud and clear. Though there has been mixed opinion about his finesse in his last 2 movies. It’s universally acceptable that Pa. Ranjith is the best when it comes to being politically and socially responsible. The Dalit politics that he speaks are too strong and have a need to be told. Be it with the wall in ‘Madras’ or with the land in ‘Kaala’, Ranjith has been spot on in transcending his thoughts to the screen, it’s never a problem about the wall or the land, it’s about the authority.
Another important aspect of Pa. Ranjith is the women in his films. They are no longer the showpiece that worships the ‘machoness’ of the male protagonist. Pa. Ranjith’s women stand apart from the usual as they have their own soul and voice and are much independent. It wouldn’t be unfair if Ranjith is attributed to impelling his contemporaries to portray the women in the right manner. There are these two scenes in Kaala that will provide testimony to the portrayal of women in films and why Ranjith stands as an example. One, ‘Puyal’ is ambushed by the police who removes her pants in an attempt to shame her, but instead of going for her pants, she chooses the ‘lathi’ to attack the police. Another scene is a comical one, ‘Kaala’ goes to meet his past love interest ‘Zarena’. Kaala’s wife, Selvi is insecure and is possessive of her husband. Once Kaala comes back, there is a small conversation between Kaala and Selvi where Selvi threatens Kaala to go meet her past love interest. It’s just a lighter moment in the film yet it’s impressive in the way how Selvi is showcased to be no lesser to Kaala.
While Pa. Ranjith the director expressed his thoughts without any fear, Pa. Ranjith the producer is even more powerful as he looks to multiply his voice by funding for the directors who are like-minded as his. A piece of evidence to the same is Maari Selvaraj’s ‘Pariyerum Perumal’. The movie spoke about the oppression of several multitudes and will be one of the best movies of the century. Pa. Ranjith has lend his hands to numerous other artforms. The Koogai Thirapada Iyakkam, Neelam Publications and ‘Vaanam’ cultural fest are some of the many initiatives of Pa. Ranjith that shall stand tall for several decades to come. The music band ‘Casteless Collectives is another initiative of Pa. Ranjith that shows his thirst to find talents breaking any boundary that may stand in the way of the artists. Numerous artists from ‘Casteless Collectives’ such as Tamil rapper ‘Arivu’ have reached bigger stages solely due to their talent and considering the background they come from, its evident Pa. Ranjith’s ‘Casteless Collectives’ is truly a pathbreaking initiative.
As to anybody who speaks for the oppressed, there have been numerous barriers on Pa. Ranjith and senseless allegations. Little do they know, Pa. Ranjith is a phenomenon with a voice that’s too loud and can never be muted. As long as the Tamil cinema lives, Pa. Ranjith will live forever for being the man implicating the much needed change.
Here’s to wishing the man who altered the perspective a very happy birthday!