A valiant attempt to mainstream the marginalised

The ‘good cop’ in ‘Article 15’ is aware of his privilege
One popular trope in Hindi cinema is that of a ‘good cop’. He regularly performs swashbuckling tricks, takes the rowdies to task and doles out justice. Amitabh Bachchan played many of these angry cop roles in the 1970s. In fact, his angry young man image was largely a creation of these films. The cop character was angered by wrongdoings of various kinds but remained oblivious to caste-based injustice. A cop walking over a heap of garbage, entering the swamp with his subordinates, visuals of manual scavenging on screen — it is rare to encounter these moments in Hindi films. The way director Anubhav Sinha deals with caste issues is different from the approach of, say, Pa. Ranjith, and I think both can coexist. Hindi cinema is riddled with many ills. It can’t look beyond the urban, dishes out films that look like soap operas and is lacking in social content. On the other hand, when a Hindi film deals with social issues and lacks a big mainstream lead actor, it is often dismissed as ‘art house’. Set in rural Uttar Pradesh, Article 15 takes a clear position on caste-based crimes, untouchability and other associated social ostracisation practices that keep Dalits invisible and crush all their attempts at mobilising themselves and taking on the powers that be. The film opens with a song which vocalises the wide chasm that exists. Immediately thereafter appears a familiar statue of B.R. Ambedkar in his trademark blue coat with his hand raised and holding a copy of the Constitution. Some might dismiss this as a tokenistic measure, but I believe it is of great significance. The song and the statue create an iconography that mere words cannot capture. I still remember the concluding scenes from Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala and his effective use of the colour blue that takes over the screen. It is rife with suggestions and cinema, after all, is an image-based medium. The events depicted in such films are common knowledge, but they attain a renewed vigour on screen. This is where cinema fulfils its role as a watch-keeper in democracy.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-valiant-attempt-to-mainstream-the-marginalised/article28432514.ece

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