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Police Brutality & Caste : Singham 3 review

This video has not been made to discuss if Singham 3 is a good or a bad movie. The storyline is problematic. It is barely a few days since there has been unbridled police atrocity at Marina Beach [1] in Chennai on the residents there. Singham 3 follows almost immediately, heaping praises on policemen, celebrating that policemen have no rules to abide by.

If you look at an earlier movie ‘Saamy’, the protagonist repeats “I am not a police, I am a loafer” (naan police illa da, ..poriki !!), or in Singham “If I hit you hard, it would be as if a 1.5 tonne weight landed on you” (naan ongi adicha ondra tonne madiri). True, of course! You do indeed jail and beat Dalits, Adivasis and the oppressed people, after all ! You beat them to death [2], after all, don’t you ?

When it comes to raping Dalit and Adivasi women, isn’t it the police who happen to be the frontrunners ? In the name of smoking out Veerappan or naxalites from the forests, it was you who raped the many Adivasi women who lived there, after all!

Surya, who proclaims commitment and involvement in social causes – his father one of the earliest who talked about the inhuman condition of sanitation workers in Tamil Nadu in a DMK conference, makes a movie portraying that police is above law and order.  I don’t find anything wrong in you praising police work, but why do you agree to portray policemen are loafers in uniform, that policemen are above rules ?

Take the thamirabarani murder [3] (dalits who were protesting for a hike in wages were surrounded by the police and pushed them into Thamirabarani river. Many were beaten and were not allowed to come out of the shore, they died), paramakudi riots [4][5].

Ok, are all policemen loafers, do they do anything to protect law and order? Do they do anything to find the truth? That is a big lie. It might happen to caste Hindu police officers but not to a dalit. Even if she is a DSP. Take DSP Vishnupriya – she died a policewoman. She was a DSP, when she committed suicide, did the police department do anything at all [6] ? Invariably it seems only the caste-hindus policemen who are rowdies and can have the arrogance.

When it comes to those who review such movies, all you do is a technical analysis. And trying to maintain a status quo.

In the Singham movie, Surya is an Annachi (Nadar) caste. Villain is also from the Annachi caste. Why can’t you portray depressed castes as policemen ? Why can’t you show them succeed in doing excellent jobs of cleaning up the society ? Why is it that only caste-hindus get to say even if I don’t have this job, I can earn a living by setting up a petty shop or by doing agriculture ? Why is it never that they say they can earn a living by doing sanitation job or being a cobbler? So what you are saying is – even if someone becomes a police officer, they cannot come from a depressed caste, is it ?

What is the role of women in Surya’s movies ? There is a lot of gossip around actors demanding certain salaries, and they demand and they are right in doing so. Cant these heros demand an equal of important role to the heroine, at least be given even a slightly meaningful role in these movies At the moment most movies  continue to be framed in the same stereotyped non-existent roles of dancing in a few bits and pieces, here and there. In the olden days women used to be kept in palaces, and made to dance for the pleasure of men. It is the same in today’s times also – where women are made to dance in large auditoriums for the male gaze. That is also problematic picturizing of women in all your movies.

When you keep reinforcing what kind of rowdyism police engage instead of showing what they must actually be doing, you must also introspect on what sort of impact it will have on the society’s psyche.

When it comes to those who review such movies, all you do is a technical analysis. And trying to maintain a status quo. A huge portion of those who are in politics today have invariably come from the field of cinema. Have you analysed which castes they belong to ? Can’t you review it from the caste angle at all ? Why is nobody asking why the protagonist as well as the antagonist characters both have to be annachi-s ? Why can’t it be a Dalit, Parayar, Pallar or Arunthathiyar ? The other could be a Thevar, why not characterize like that ? So you will all stick to a nuanced framework while making movies, we will have no role in the movies, we will simply have to clap and cheer you in the theatres, setup fan clubs and worship you. All you modern reviewers – Prashant and a few others – you will never talk about caste, but only look at the technical aspects – it is perfectly ok, you continue doing that ! All I am saying is that do inquire into the caste angle  and the role of women in these movies.

Dr. Ravichandran Bathran, Dalit Camera founder.

Video: Ravichandran Bathran, Transcription: Dalit Camera