Bitty Ruminations 88 – Caste and ‘Kaala’

Posted on June 18, 2018


It’s usual to see increased levels of discussion when it comes to big films. It’s also not surprising to see more people chiming in to say “yes, I agree with you” or “I disagree.” But the Kaala discussions have been unusually sobering. When I wrote the imaginary Q and A, some regular commenters here felt I was getting needlessly defensive — and I might have thought so too, if it wasn’t for this single tweet, which I found disgusting.

This is essentially accusing me of caste-based discrimination. Feel free to mock me about my affection for latter-day Mani Ratnam, or Kamal’s Mumbai XPress (to take an instance where I was in the minority). But as long as the discussion is on aesthetic grounds, it’s totally legit.

I have never censored any criticism on this blog. Even today, a commenter named Vandana had this to say “Both MR and Kamal are the most overrated artistes…. For example Kaatru veliyidai, kadal were pathetic movies, a torture to watch. You simply don’t want to accept that the movie is horrible…”

This is an aesthetic opinion. I could argue till the cows come home about how “Kaatru veliyidai, kadal were pathetic movies” is not a written-in-stone verdict and opinions can differ, but that’s different.

But this toxic tweet is not the same case. If you are accusing me of following a “definitive pattern” of discriminating against a “non-Brahmin filmmaker,” then the burden of proof falls on you. Or at least ask me, so I can point to my reviews of Visaranai or Pisasu (“Mysskin may be the only filmmaker around whose violence is rendered as some sort of poetry. “), or whatever.

There is no mention in many reviews of either Mani Ratnam or Kamal Haasan. Or even in my reviews of Ranjith’s films, there are so many other films and filmmakers that I write about. Why single out only the Mani Ratnam/Kamal Haasan references to make your point?

But putting out an ill-considered tweet like this makes a lot of people believe that this is indeed where I am coming from — because they are not going to do the research, and very quickly, a tweet can become truth. And that’s something I am not going to take lying down.

So yes, call it defensive. But this is one time I felt I needed to defend myself.

Again, let’s meet during the Chekka Chivatha Vaanam release time and hash out the film, and if you feel my aesthetic evaluation is different from yours, by all means, tweet away. A bit of fun at expense of a public figure is par for the course.

But don’t bring caste into it, please.

PS: I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m throwing myself a pity party. I’m not. A lot of these comments have made me re-look through some of my writings, and that’s always a good thing.

PPS: I also understand now what a certain kind of… helplessness feels like, when you want to point something out but are pretty sure no one’s interested in listening.