Cinema is a mirror that can change the world– Diego Luna
The reach and impact of cinema in the society has increased substantially over the years. It has evolved to become one of the largest modes of communication and broadcasting now. Knowingly or unknowingly, the things that we see in movies are somehow registered and retained in our minds. This imposes a huge responsibility on the creators of a movie, actors, directors, script writers, etc. They should make use of the platform given to create awareness and educate the people instead of making run-of-the-mill mainstream entertainment movies. Cinema is undoubtedly a form of entertainment; however, its purposes need not be restricted only to that. One such film that combines entertainment with social cause in the recent times is the Tamil movie Pariyerum Perumal.
Pariyerum Perumal is about a dalit boy who plays the title role. The movie revolves around Pariyan’s journey from his small village and how he survives in a law college. His own friends make fun of him for aspiring to become a lawyer. Pariyan’s community survives on hunting prey with the help of their native hunting breed dogs. The protagonist has a black rajapaalayam who he fondly calls Karuppi (Blacky). Karuppi is the odd one from the rest of the dogs because of her colour. However, five minutes into the movie, Karuppi runs on to the train tracks and get struck and is run over by the train. There is intense sorrow and everyone mourns the death of the dog. They also give the dog a proper funeral and perform the last rites. The attachment of the protagonist to his dog is made abundantly clear when he misses the companionship and reminisces about all the good times that they shared.
Although the movie begins with a dark note, it eases into light humour as the protagonist makes his way into the law college. There are instances where he struggles because he doesn’t know English. The intensity of the problems in the education system is subtly portrayed through this. He turns to the help of a female classmate to learn the language.
This leads to the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two. This is however misinterpreted by her cousin as the dalit boy’s ploy to get the upper caste girl to fall in love with him. Casteism affects their innocent friendship. The girl’s family mistreat the boy on his arrival at a social gathering without her knowledge. He is beaten up. The hatred of the upper caste men towards the dalits was evidently seen when they went up to the extent of urinating on Pariyan for attending a celebration at their household.
Post this event, the hero begins to question the various social practises that are discriminatory in nature. He distances himself from the girl. However, Jo’s cousin keeps pulling him into trouble at college. Situations worsen to a point where Pariyan has to bring his father to meet the principal. Pariyan’s father is a folk dancer who dons female attire during performances. The love and care of the father is portrayed beautifully despite the complexities in their relationship, as Pariyan’s father is marginalised within the marginalised caste. However, the other boys begin to make fun of his father and go to the extreme of physically assaulting him and molesting him. The hero is extremely angered by this decides to avenge the attackers. His mother however stops him and consoles him. He understands that there is a bigger picture when it comes to caste oppression and his experience was just a small part to it.
The girl’s family become anxious and seek the help of an old man who does honour killing as a service to God. He gets close to the hero and tries killing him in a suicide like manner. He beats him up and lays him down by the railroads. The protagonist almost dies but the spirit of his beloved Karuppi comes and urges him to wake up. He goes and speaks to Jo’s father saying that it was the messed up society that corrupted their innocent and beautiful friendship. He asks some hard hitting questions as to why there is still discrimination based on the caste and colour of people. He provokes people to evolve beyond these rudimentary practises.
The director has used several beautiful metaphors to show the oppression. Towards the end, Karuppi is not black but is painted blue to show that not everything black is dirty or beneath someone. He covers many issues in the education system, the condition of villagers, the existence of the caste system, honour killing and so on. It is such a hard hitting movie, that you take it back with you. We need many more movies like this that create an impact on the society.
Picture Credits : www.indiaglitz.com