Cynthia Dettman:  Author

Pa Ranjith: Raising Dalit Voices


Pa Ranjith is a Dalit activist and popular film maker who speaks out on behalf of low-caste and outcaste communities in Tamilnadu.  He is outspoken on issues of caste and social justice in general.  Unfortunately, there is a growing tendency here in India for people to literally get arrested for upsetting others, especially if anything negative is said about their past or present heroes.

Ranjith gave a talk last year in which he said that Dalits were oppressed and their lands stolen during an ancient empire called the Chola Empire.  Whether this was a historically accurate fact or not, some didn’t care.  They did not want their powerful ancestors maligned, so they brought charges against him.  He did not go to jail and he remains outspoken.

Ranjith’s films have the usual drama, action, music and dance as almost all Indian films do, but his messages are different.  Dalit characters are strong and rising up, rather than depicted as pitiful, downtrodden creatures.  He is very good at combining popular cultural styles with strong and revolutionary messages.

In this video  interview, a local professor talks about the topic with a news anchor.

In this news piece, Ranjith refuses to back down.



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