Locating Public Angst in Cinematic Narratives: A Cultural Critique of Tamil Film Kaala


The paper aims to locate the angst in the public discourse on the Tamil language film Kaala (2018) directed by Pa.Ranjith. Kaala portrays the life and challenges of the protagonist, played by one of the most popular Tamil film actors Rajanikanth, his family and members of his under-privileged community who take on the antagonist and his avarice towards land-grabbing and evicting the protagonist and members of his community from their homes. The film portrays the everyday struggles and their modes of resistance against the powerful devices of the politician-villain. The paper aims to look into the film's directorial subversion of portraying the protagonist from the underprivileged section of the society, a paradigm unbeknown to the Indian and language popular cinema. The objective of the study is to locate the differing discourses about the movie and to answer the question-is there an attempt to alter the popular cinematic narrative by portraying a realistic depiction of society through its plot and narrative structure and the problems depicted. The study will focus on the repertoire used by the filmmaker in Kaala to argue that popular Tamil cinema particularly played by popular actors like Rajanikanth with a wider mass appeal can alter the imagination of the popular Tamil masses if not Indian. It points out that the creative efforts at interrogation of prescribed structures and cultural history is worthy of eliciting public debates/discourses in a society where most of them are unable to partake in conversations of culture and modernity.

Author Information
Percy Fernandez, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, United Arab Emirates

Paper Information
Conference: MediAsia2018
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory

This paper is part of the MediAsia2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon