The Untouchables (1959 TV series) episodes
Nº = Overall episode number
Ep = Episode number by season
Season 1: 1959–60
NºEpTitleDirected by:Written by:Original air date
1 1 "The Empty Chair" John Peyser
Ernest Kinoy 15 October 1959
With Capone in prison, Frank Nitti tries to grab the open top spot in the empire. But Capone's bookkeeper is giving him a run for his money.
Untouchables agent "Rico" Rossi is introduced in this episode, as a barber-turned federal agentwho was a witness to Frank Nitti's murder of two top Capone lieutenants.
2 2 "Ma Barker and Her Boys" Joe Parker Jerome Ross 22 October 1959
Ness has tracked down the notorious bank robber Ma Barker, a woman who turned her back on religion in order to lead a life of crime with her sons.
3 "The Jake Lingle Killing" Tay Garnett Robert C. Dennis, Saul Levitt 29 October 1959
A newspaperman is murdered for double-crossing some mobsters. So a reward-seeking ex-con decides to work with Ness and find the killer.
4 4 "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story" Joe Parker David Karp 5 November 1959
Ness tries to get the influential president of a truckers union to stop mobster "Bugs" Moran and his crime syndicate from infiltrating the labor unions.
5 5 "Ain't We Got Fun" Roger Kay Robert C. Dennis, Abram S. Ginnes 12 November 1959
A successful bootlegger seizes control of a nightclub and takes its brash young comic under his wing, promising to make him a star.
6 6 "Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll" Andrew McCullough
Charles R. Marion, Palmer Thompson 19 November 1959
A deranged gangster kidnaps the right-hand man of mobster Dutch Schultz, then steals the horse Schultz was planning to bet on in the Kentucky Derby.
7 7 "Mexican Stake-Out" Tay Garnett Robert C. Dennis, Alvin Sapinsley 26 November 1959
Eliot Ness is lured south of the border to retrieve a witness who will help his case. Only it's a set-up... once there, the mobster on trial is planning to have Ness killed.
8 8 "The Artichoke King" Roger Kay Harry Essex 3 December 1959
A gangster who controls the produce market in New York has a colleague bumped off. But when the hit man he hired gets greedy, he has to get rid of him too.
9 9 "The Tri-State Gang" Allen H. Miner Joseph Petracca 10 December 1959
A notorious gang that hijacks trucks is unstoppable... until one of its members falls for a young French woman who can identify their leader. Untouchables agent LaMarr Kane (Chuck Hicks) is killed in this episode.
10 10 "The Dutch Schultz Story" Jerry Hopper Robert C. Dennis, Jerome Ross 17 December 1959
After Dutch Schultz gets his income tax evasion trial moved to a quiet town, he starts to have a positive effect on its citizens and eventually sways the jury.
11 11 "You Can't Pick the Number" Richard Whorf Henry F. Greenberg 24 December 1959
Eliot Ness and the Untouchables set their sights shutting down the numbers racket. The numbers are like a lottery where anyone can place a bet of up to one dollar on a three digit number. The payout for a full dollar bet is $600 so the profit for the mob, who run the racket, is the remaining 40%. Ness wants to shut down that cash flow which can be used for more heinous crimes. They think they may have an in when one of Al Morrissey's collectors is stabbed. Ness pressures Agent Marty Flaherty to make contact with Morrissey, an old friend who once saved his life. Before he can do anything, the Chicago police arrest Morrissey for gambling violations and Marty focuses on Al's son, Phil Morrissey but with little luck until his father pays the price for being connected to the mob.
12 12 "The Underground Railway" Walter Grauman Leonard Kantor 31 December 1959
When Frank Halloway breaks out of prison, his crooked lawyer arranges for him to follow the underground railway to Los Angeles where he hopes to collect his $250,000 share of the loot from his last job. The so-called railway is a safe route to Los Angeles with help from reliable criminal associates along the way. To help him along the way, the lawyer arranges for Mona Valentine to travel with him and pose as his wife. She does so for the money she's offered, even though she is repulsed by Halloway who is quite ugly. Along the way, however, he undergoes plastic surgery to the point that it creates a problem for him at the end of his journey. For Eliot Ness and the Untouchables, capturing Halloway is personal: Halloway killed a fellow agent.
13 13 "Syndicate Sanctuary" Paul Harrison George F. Slavin 7 January 1960
With Al Capone out of the way, the mob is looking to relocate its base of operations outside of Chicago in a nearby community. Their first step is to get rid of the incorruptible mayoral candidate, Judge Leon Zabo, who they run down in the street. The Coroner's inquest is a sham and it is obvious that the Chief of Police, who appoints the Coroner, is already in the syndicate's pocket. Ness and his men move into the town intent on shutting the mob down before they even get started but the Untouchables find that they also have to protect the dead Judge's daughter, Rosetta Zabo, who has taken up his anti-corruption campaign.
14 14 "The Noise of Death" Walter Grauman Ben Maddow 14 January 1960
When Eliot Ness and Agent Martin Flaherty raid a small butcher shop looking for illegal liquor, they find more the cheap booze: they find the body of the store's owner, Arturo Vittorini, in the meat locker. The dead man's wife Barbara accuses the neighborhood Mafia chief, Joe Bucco, of ordering the killing. Bucco denies having anything to do with it - the dead man was his wife's cousin - but is pretty sure his collector, Little Charlie Sebastino, is responsible. He also learns to his shock and dismay that the Mafia hierarchy has pushed him out and Little Charlie has been named as his replacement. Bucco strikes back and sabotages Sebastino's trucks but the Mafia sends him a message when they kill his driver and he knows that unless he backs off, he will be next. He gives Eliot Ness a present just in case he's knocked off.
15 15 "Star Witness" Tay Garnett Charles O'Neal 21 January 1960
An accountant with a brilliant mind for numbers agrees to testify against the mob. But keeping him safe before the trial keeps Ness and his men on the run.
16 16 "The St. Louis Story" Howard W. Koch Joseph Petracca 28 January 1960
The team faces a new kind of criminal when they battle the owner of the swank Jockey Club, a respectable gent who is the boss of the St. Louis underworld.
17 17 "One-Armed Bandits" Walter Grauman E. Jack Neuman 4 February 1960
A newly released convict is blackmailed into running a slot-machine racket. If he refuses, his daughter will learn of his existence and be scandalized.
18 18 "Little Egypt" John Peyser Joseph Petracca 11 February 1960
The department's newest agent is able to infiltrate the mob, using carrier pigeons to get information out. That is, until a woman gets him into trouble.
19 19 "The Big Squeeze" Roger Kay W.R. Burnett, Robert C. Dennis 18 February 1960
For Ness, a master bank robber proves a worthy opponent. But robbing banks is not a federal offense, so Ness must get him on another charge.
20 20 "The Unhired Assassin: Part 1" Howard W. Koch William Spier 25 February 1960
While a crazed derelict in Florida is obsessed with assassinating President Roosevelt, Capone's mob is planning to take over the Chicago World's Fair by killing the mayor.
21 21 "The Unhired Assassin: Part 2" Howard W. Koch William Spier 3 March 1960
Although unsuccessful in their first attempt to assassinate Chicago's Mayor, Anton J. Cermak, the Capone mob under the command of Frank Nitti and several other of the imprisoned mobster's lieutenants, have not given up. This time they hire a professional, Fred "Caddy" Croner, an expert at using a long rifle with a scope who carries his weapon in a golf club bag. They put him on a retainer until Cermak goes out of town and sure enough, they learn that the Mayor will be traveling to Miami to attend a public event in honor of the President-elect, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who is visiting the area before returning to Washington for his inauguration a few weeks later. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are soon onto their plan and travel to Miami to protect Cermak. Unbeknown to them however, a crazed man, Giuseppe "Joe" Zangara, has purchased a handgun with the intent to kill Roosevelt at the same public function.
22 22 "The White Slavers" Walter Grauman Leonard Kantor 10 March 1960
The sadistic head of a prostitution ring tries to get a former madam to help him with his operation. Only she decides to work with Eliot Ness instead.
23 23 "Three Thousand Suspects" John Peyser Robert C. Dennis 24 March 1960
Just as a prisoner is about to turn stool pigeon, he is shot by someone on the inside. So Ness transfers a con from another prison to find the killer.
24 24 "The Doreen Maney Story" Robert Florey Jerome Ross 31 March 1960
A woman and her boyfriend, dubbed "The Lovebirds" by the press, rob an armored truck. When she is caught, Ness uses her as bait to catch her partner.
25 25 "Portrait of a Thief" Walter Grauman Herbert Abbott Spiro 7 April 1960
The president of a firm that distributes alcohol is connected to the mob and has been swindling his company for years. But then the mob turns on him.
26 26 "The Underworld Bank" Stuart Rosenberg Aben Kandel 14 April 1960
The crime lords have now become money lenders. So when they cut one of their men out of his share of a heist, he comes after them... and so does Eliot Ness.
27 27 "Head of Fire: Feet of Clay" Walter Grauman Ben Maddow 21 April 1960
Special agent Ness is worried about his childhood pal - a big, successful boxing promoter who's mixed up with a gangster Ness can never get convicted.
28 28 "The Frank Nitti Story" Howard W. Koch
Lee Blair, Harry Essex 28 April 1960
Al Capone's main enforcer, Frank Nitti, has gone into the movie business. He threatens theater owners into paying him protection money... or else! Untouchables agent Cam Allison (Anthony George) is killed in this episode, using his body to shield Ness from a would-be assassin.
Season 2: 1960–61
NºEpTitleDirected by:Written by:Original air date
29 1 "The Rusty Heller Story" Walter Grauman Leonard Kantor 13 October 1960
Rusty Heller is a nightclub performer who has her eyes set on a better life for herself which, in her case, means lots more money. She sets her eyes on mobster Charles 'Pop' Felcher who has his own ambitions: with the recent arrest of Al Capone on tax evasion charges, he sees himself taking over as the top mobster in Chicago. When Felcher shows little interest in her, she settles for his lawyer, Archie Grayson. Felcher eventually comes around but Rusty starts to play a dangerous game when she decides to make money off Felcher and the Capone mob by selling both of them the same information. Paul Picerni joins the cast as new Untouchables Agent Lee Hobson, replacing Martin Flaherty (Jerry Paris) as Ness' second-in-command. Note: In 1997 TV Guide ranked this episode number 99 on its "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time" list.
30 2 "Jack 'Legs' Diamond" John Peyser Harry Essex,
Charles O'Neal 20 October 1960
Working in the New York area, Eliot Ness and his men are trying to trace an incoming shipment of narcotics. Some years before, mobster and nightclub owner Jack "Legs" Diamond spent time in Europe and he made a deal with a Greek crime family to buy $5 million worth of narcotics. Diamond is flamboyant and loves publicity but his partners, Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz, want him to lie low for a while and they send him off to his cabin in the Catskills. When Diamond learns that they have gone ahead with the drug deal without informing him, he assumes they're trying to cut him out of the deal and goes after the drugs himself.
31 3 "Nicky" Walter Grauman Harry Essex, Joseph Petracca 3 November 1960
When a small-time hoodlum is apparently killed by Eliot Ness during a raid, the man's teenage son, Nicky Bousso, tries to kill him. Ness realizes that Nicky is no hood and tries to be nice, but the kid is persistent. When ballistics confirm that the man was killed before the raid took place, Nicky thinks Ness is just making it up. Nicky gets a job cleaning cars at his father's former place of work, a taxi company owned by Gus Marco. Unbeknown to Nicky, Marco is a major hoodlum and his father was in fact a hood. He is soon faced with the choice of following in his father's footsteps or helping out Ness and the Feds.
32 4 "The Waxey Gordon Story" John Peyser Joseph Petracca 10 November 1960
Waxey Gordon is known as the beer baron of New York and he decides that the time has come to expand his territory. He sets his sights on the New Jersey side of the river and successfully eliminates his three competitors there, including mobster Bugs Donovan. Ness and his men are trying to bring Waxey down and are sure they have located his warehouse but every time they raid the place, the building is completely empty. When they do finally figure out how he is moving his beer, they plan a little surprise for him with the help of the Elizabeth, New Jersey Fire Department.
33 5 "The Mark of Cain" Walter Grauman David Zelag Goodman 17 November 1960
Eliot Ness and his team have been successful in shutting most of the drug trafficking in Chicago. One exception is "Little" Charlie Sebastino's operation. He has accumulated quite a stash over the years and doesn't need to import new supplies to keep his lucrative operation going. A drug overdose victim puts Ness onto Sebastino's distribution chain but he is puzzled when the gangster stops selling the stuff. Unbeknown to Ness, the Commission, chaired by Joe Genna, has ordered Sebastino to stop selling drugs. Needless to say, "Little" Charlie hatches his own plan to eliminate Genna and come out on top.
34 6 "A Seat on the Fence" Walter Grauman William Templeton 24 November 1960
Narcotics smuggler Dino Patrone returns to the United States after visiting the old country for several months. He brings his younger sister Carla with him as she plans on studying in the U.S. Little does Dino know that his boss Victor Bardo has ordered his best friend Willie Asher to kill him. Traveling on the train to Chicago, Dino meets an acquaintance, print and radio journalist Loren Hall. Dino soon meets his end and it falls to Hall, who reluctantly agrees to work with Eliot Ness, to help Carla Patrone after she is kidnapped by the mobsters.
35 7 "The Purple Gang" Walter Grauman John Mantley 1 December 1960
The Purple Gang, led by Eddie Fletcher, specialize in small-time kidnapping focusing on minor mobster that can fetch them a few thousand dollars in a short period of time. They may have bitten off than they can chew when they grab Jan Tornek. He is ostensibly an antique shop owner in business with his brother-in-law Eric Vajda. In fact, he's a messenger for the Capone mob, regularly collecting shipments of narcotics. Ness had been observing Tornek for some time and when he misses picking up a drug delivery, he's soon on to Mrs. Tornek who has already received the ransom demand. She works with Ness but Fletcher is soon on to them and they nab her brother, Eric Vajda. The case gets complicated when Capone's top enforcer, Frank Nitti, starts to negotiate for Vajda's release.
36 8 "Kiss of Death Girl" John Peyser Harry Kronman 8 December 1960
Having had three boyfriends killed in the last 18 months, Francie West has earned her nickname, the kiss of death girl. She is a blackjack dealer in Phil Corbin's speakeasy and has been dating a minor mobster in Lou Scalese organization named Whitey Barrows. Corbin has plans to move into the big time and with Whitey's help, hijacks four truckloads of liquor belonging to Scalese. Corbin kills Whitey when the job is done and Eliot Ness tries to get Francie to help him out on the case. She's not too keen, initially refusing to accept that her latest boyfriend is dead. When she realizes that Corbin was involved and that her own life is in danger, she reconsiders.
37 9 "The Larry Fay Story" Walter Grauman Harry Essex 15 December 1960
When mobster Larry Fay gets control of the dairy industry, the price goes up and the city is in an uproar. Milk normally sells for 10 cents a quart but has risen to 13 cents with 2 cents going directly into 's Fay's pocket. A commission of inquiry is set up to investigate the matter but Fay only cares about his profit and to the chagrin of at least one of his partners, pushes the price of milk ever higher. Fay owns a nightclub with partner Sally Kansas who isn't aware of Fay's illegal activities. Her much adored younger brother Tommy does and when Fay kills him, Eliot Ness sees an opening to enlist Sally's help in bringing Fay down.
38 10 "The Otto Frick Story" John Peyser Leonard Kantor 22 December 1960
Otto Frick is a drug dealer with a traveling group of distributors. Ness and his men trace his supply chain to a book shop whose owner regularly visits the German Consulate in New York. Ness soon realizes that the Nazis are supplying Frick and that one of its agents, Walter Messlinger, is the point of contact. What Ness doesn't yet realize is that Messlinger wants Frick's experience as a hood to start using Nazi strong-arm tactics against local citizens. He also enlists Frick's right-hand man, Hans Eberhardt, to set up a protection racket against Jewish shopkeepers. When Ness intercepts one of the German drug shipments, Frick starts putting pressure on his German contact and it all comes to a head on the night of big German-American Bund rally at Madison Square Gardens.
39 11 "The Tommy Karpeles Story" Stuart Rosenberg George Bellak 29 December 1960
Following the Hillsdale Express train robbery in which a million dollars was stolen and a mail clerk was killed, "Tough" Tommy Karpeles is convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Eliot Ness has been tasked by the Post Office to recover the missing million and he begins to think that Karpeles may be innocent. Information from a dying hood puts him on the trail of Karpeles' former associate Arnie 'The Wolf' Mendoza, now a supposedly reformed cinema owner living under the name of Albert Maris. When Mendoza kidnaps Karpeles' daughter Sally to keep her from talking, Tommy decides to help Ness and rescue his daughter.
40 12 "The Big Train: Part 1" John Peyser William Spier 5 January 1961
When Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion, he's sentenced to 11 years and sent to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. Capone's farewell is something normally reserved for more honest citizens leading Eliot Ness to go to Washington and propose the construction of Alcatraz prison. In Atlanta, Capone has a pretty good thing going, including guards who make life pretty easy for him in exchange for cash. When it becomes apparent that he too will be transferred to the new prison, Capone uses a cell mate's knowledge of the railroad route to plan his escape. In Chicago meanwhile, Ness becomes aware that the Capone empire is converting assets into cash and he and his team set out to find out why.
41 13 "The Big Train: Part 2" John Peyser William Spier 12 January 1961
Having managed to secretly inform his men of the departure date of the train carrying him to Alcatraz, Al Capone continues to work om his escape. The plan is to free Capone when the train stops for 5 minutes in the northern California community of Cloverville. Capone's men arrive the day before the snatch and basically take over the town at gunpoint. Ness and his men are soon on to them however and manage to enter the town. Needless to say, Capone ends up in Alcatraz.
42 14 "The Masterpiece" Walter Grauman David Zelag Goodman 19 January 1961
When Al Capone is imprisoned for tax evasion, he leaves his operation in the hands of two of his lieutenants: Mayer Wartel is responsible for the speakeasies and Carl Positan is left in charge of the breweries. Wartel however soon ensures that he is left as the only one in charge and is soon dubbed Capone's heir apparent. He's a severe hypochondriac and a chronic worrier so when he takes a dislike to the newspaper articles about him, he personally gets rid of the editor. Wartel had his gun made from scratch and of unique lightweight materials which results in Ness being able to track down the gunsmith and keep him under surveillance. When worrier Wartel gets wind of Ness' interest, he hires contract killer Harry Strauss to get rid of him. The fact that his target is under constant watch only adds to thrill of the kill.
43 15 "The Organization" Walter Grauman Harry Kronman 26 January 1961
With the imprisonment of Al Capone for tax evasion, Frank Nitti has taken over the operation of the organization but that isn't stopping others from trying to muscle their way in. Arnie Seeger in particular thinks he has the opportunity to create a national crime syndicate and partners with St. Louis mobster Joe Kulak to make it happen. They plan on inviting key mobsters from across the country to a conference in Chicago. Into this mix comes a recently released small-time criminal, Maxie Schram. His wife Roxie now lives with Seeger and Maxie tries to hit her up for money. Down and out, he has no choice but to turn to Eliot Ness as an informant after his wife refuses to help him. It is Maxie that puts Ness and his men on Seeger's trail. When Kulak kills a policeman who had wiretapped the site of the syndicate conference, theirs is now a murder investigation as well.
44 16 "The Jamaica Ginger Story" John Peyser Joseph Petracca 2 February 1961
Kansas City boss Torrez runs a lucrative trade in deadly, wood-alcohol tainted "Jamaica Ginger." When rivals try to move in on his operation, Torrez hires hit-men, but complications arise when one of the killers falls in love.
45 17 "Augie 'The Banker' Ciamino" Stuart Rosenberg Adrian Spies 9 February 1961
Augie "The Banker" Ciamino is a bootlegger who seems to have developed an almost foolproof way of manufacturing his liquor. He has equipped over a hundred immigrant homes with small stills to actually make the stuff and a unique way of collecting the product. Not everyone in the immigrant community is participating in the illegal liquor-making operation and Eliot Ness visits a night class where adults learn English. His visit is followed by Ciamino's thugs who give the teacher a beating in front of his students. When shopkeeper Renzo Raineri intervenes, he learns that his son, a bookkeeper, is part of Ciamino's organization. Once Ness at his men learn how Ciamino collects the liquor, they try to catch him with goods but through intimidation and murder, the mobster proves to be elusive.
46 18 "The Underground Court" Don Medford Leonard Kantor 16 February 1961
Mobster Valentine Ferrar thinks he has the perfect way to steal $500,000 of the syndicate's money. When a passenger liner returning from Cuba catches fire off the New Jersey coast, he fakes his death and sends his underling to the Underground Court, the mob's court of law, to tell them he drowned. They are soon on his trail however so when he meets up with a kooky widow, Hannah Wagnall, they set off on what she calls a second honeymoon. What he doesn't realize is that Wagnall has her own plans and that she's gone on these second honeymoons before. Ness and his men, with the help of State Police, track Valentine and Wagnall across several States as they too try to not only get the money but hopefully find out where the Underground Court meets.
47 19 "The Nick Moses Story" Herman Hoffman Tim Darlo,
T.L.P. Swicegood 23 February 1961
When gangster Nick Moses and another Chicago mobster threaten to go to war after Moses poaches customers in the other's territory, Frank Nitti — now the top mobster in Chicago after the recent incarceration of Al Capone for tax evasion — tells them to settle things amicably, or else. Moses pretends to make amends but actually arranges a hit on his rival, one that also leads to a young newspaper boy being shot. When Nitti tells him he's a dead man, Moses tries to make one last deal - in return for sparing his life, he will make sure Eliot Ness is killed. Nitti accepts the proposition and gives him six days to get the job done.
48 20 "The Antidote" Walter Grauman David Zelag Goodman 9 March 1961
For years the Federal government has been trying to find a way to chemically de-nature industrial alcohol, but the mob has always found a way to re-nature the substance. In Chicago, the chief supplier of alcohol to the mob is Wally Baltzer who employs a crew of chemists to ensure a smooth flow of the product. The latest government formula is proving hard to crack and one of Baltzer's chemists, the physically disabled Russell Shield, sees an opportunity to make a name and a small fortune for himself. When his colleague develops the right chemical formula, Shield decides to kill him and blackmail Baltzer and Frank Nitti.
49 21 "The Lily Dallas Story" Don Medford Harry Essex, Leonard Kantor 16 March 1961
Lily Dallas is a highly intelligent ex-con who has a history of committing bank robberies. This time she and her husband George 'Blackie' Dallas, who is known for his deft use of a Tommy gun, kidnap a well known and very rich businessman Thomas B. Randall and demand $300,000 ransom. Mrs. Randall follows their instructions and doesn't contact the police until after she has paid the ransom so Ness puts out a rumor that all of the bills have been marked. Blackie, however, is beginning to chafe under Lily's orders, all the more so as she is having an affair with a member of her crew, Marty Stoke. With the ransom money now unmovable, they go back to robbing banks.
50 22 "Murder Under Glass" Walter Grauman Harry Kronman 23 March 1961
With the election of Franklin Roosevelt and the end in sight for prohibition, Frank Nitti and the Chicago mob have been shifting from alcohol to narcotics as their primary source of income. When their supply dries up, Nitti travels to New Orleans to meet with their supplier, Emile Bouchard, whose original shipment of drugs was hijacked but is expecting another any day. Nitti warns him that there better not be any foul-ups with this shipment but it soon becomes clear that Bouchard has plans of his own and is out to get a percentage of the mob's total income. Eliot Ness and his men are in New Orleans trying to break up the drug pipeline.
51 23 "Testimony of Evil" Paul Wendkos Joseph Petracca 30 March 1961
Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are out to convict political boss Brian O'Malley and have two witnesses who will testify that he ordered a murder. O'Malley is an old-time politico who never seeks office himself but controls almost every party official that does. Ness' witnesses are living in a hotel under constant police protection but that doesn't stop O'Malley who manages to use a corrupt cop to kill one of them, George Davas. Ness' only remaining option is to find Davas' girlfriend, Julie Duvall, who he learns was also a witness to O'Malley orders. Time is of the essence for the Feds as mobsters for O'Malley are also on hot on her trail.
52 24 "Ring of Terror" Walter Grauman John Mantley 13 April 1961
When boxer Joey McGrath dies in the ring, the medical examiner reports no special circumstances and the Press put it down to a tragic accident. A lab technician in the ME's office informs Eliot Ness that the medical report was fixed and McGrath had a high level of morphine in his blood, suggesting he had been drugged before the bout. McGrath's manager Barney Jarreau is a straight arrow who wasn't involved in the fix but with the McGrath incident about to be reviewed, numbers racketeer Rudy Krasna decides to force Jarreau's hand to fix an upcoming championship fight. Ness pressures Jarreau to help them out but he is reluctant to do so in order to protect his wife.
53 25 "Mr. Moon" Paul Wendkos John Mantley, Charles O'Neal 20 April 1961
Melanthos Moon is a San Francisco art and antique dealer who manages to hijack a large supply of the special paper used to print U.S. Currency. He then arranges to spring from Leavenworth prison master counterfeiter Hans Dreiser to engrave the plates to produce the money. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are soon on to him having followed Moon's henchman Benny Joplin back to his Oakland, California home. With the phony money available, Moon then approaches Chicago mobster Frank Nitti with an offer of $100 million split 50/50 with Nitti distributing the cash. Ness and his men are out to get one of the nearly perfect bills to get the serial number and stop the distribution of the cash before it starts.
54 26 "Death for Sale" Stuart Rosenberg David Zelag Goodman 27 April 1961
Johnny Lubin has been on the make since he was a young kid. He quit school after grade 3 and by the age of 13 was paying off his truant officer $75 a week to leave him alone. Now 20, he own a string of speakeasies on the waterfront, including opium dens. He soon hooks up with George Dodd a toy manufacturer whose real name is Phil Melnick and is a supposedly reformed mobster. He has $2 million worth of opium to distribute and Lubin thinks he has just the way to get it into the hands of distributors. Lubin's arrogance however pushes him into a deadly game of cat and mouse with Eliot Ness and his men.
55 27 "Stranglehold" Paul Wendkos Harry Kronman 4 May 1961
Eliot Ness sets out to bring down Frank Makouris, who controls New York's Fulton Fish Market by intimidation and murder and who is responsible for the price of fish going up nearly 50%. Frank's boss, gangster Joe Kulak, tells Frank to lie low until Ness leaves, but Frank ramps up his terrorizing of the market, until Kulak is forced to throw a low-ranking hood to the feds as a sacrificial lamb in order to take the heat off himself. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out as planned.
56 28 "The Nero Rankin Story" Stuart Rosenberg Leonard Kantor 11 May 1961
Although Eliot Ness and the Untouchables managed to destroy the Underground Court, they have yet to make a dent against the Syndicate, which has re-grouped and continues to operate. They elect Nero Rankin to chair the national board of the syndicate, but the choice wasn't unanimous. He's also in poor health and that leads Sylvia Orkins, who loves Rankin and is convinced he will die or be killed, to approach Eliot Ness to do something, anything, to get him out of his new job. Rankin knows he has only about a year to live and that he's an unpopular chairman so he offers Ness a deal: lay off the Syndicate for the year and when he's dead, he'll provide Ness with the Syndicate's books. When Ness turns him down, Rankin decides that there's only one option: fight back.
57 29 "The Seventh Vote" Stuart Rosenberg Richard Collins 18 May 1961
After Al Capone is imprisoned for tax evasion, he leaves his Chicago operation in the hands of a governing council. There are two factions however, one headed by Frank Nitti and the other by Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, and they can't agree on anything. To resolve the deadlock, Capone asks his mentor, known only as Kafka, to return to the U.S.A. and take over the management of his organization. Kafka was deported 11 years previously and now lives in the Orient and Nitti and Guzik hire Alexander Stavro to ensure that Kafka entry is uneventful. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables work with the RCMP to ensure Kafka is prevented from crossing into the U.S.A.
58 30 "The King of Champagne" Walter Grauman David Zelag Goodman 25 May 1961
After Federal Agents destroy a large shipment of champagne there a void in the market. Bottle manufacturer Edmund Wald decides that perhaps the time has come to start filling the bottles he sells. He teams with a bootleg liquor distributor, Michel Viton, who has the contacts to sell the stuff to. He also gets his cheapskate uncle Barney Loomis, a legitimate restaurant owner, involved by getting him to lend him the up-front money he needs to the illicit liquor operation underway. Wald is taking all the risk however with both Viton and Loomis making sure their own interests are protected. Wald has his own plans however.
59 31 "The Nick Acropolis Story" Don Medford Curtis Kenyon, John Mantley 1 June 1961
Nick Acropolis has created a vast network of bookies and is the king of the numbers racket in the greater Chicago area. His problems start when he discovers that Louis Manzak, his wife's brother and the manager of one his betting parlors, has skimmed $200,000 of the proceeds. Were it not for the family relationship, Nick would have had him killed but rather he gives Louis 48 hours to come with $50,000 as a down payment on what he owes. His sister lends him half of that amount but his attempt to borrow the rest from someone else leads to disaster. The dispute also brings Acropolis into a dispute with Frank Nitti while Nick's enforcer, Frankie Fershman, decides the time has come for him to move up in the organization.
60 32 "90-Proof Dame" Walter Grauman Harry Kronman 8 June 1961
Nate Kester is a burlesque theatre operator who decides to branch out into the lucrative brandy business. He is producing his own brandy, of very poor quality, and using a fancy French label to try to pass it off as de Bouverais cognac. He realizes that if his scheme is to work, he will have to ensure that the real stuff is unavailable for comparison to the rot gut he will be marketing. He manages to destroy the principal supplier of the real stuff but Etienne de Bouverais himself comes to Chicago to put a new wholesaler in place. When he kills off de Bouverais he finds he has a formidable foe in the form of Madame de Bouverais, the former Marcie McKuen, at one time a dancer in his theatre. Eliot Ness tries to convince her to cooperate with the Feds to bring Kester down but she has her own plans to get even her former employer.
Season 3: 1961–62
NºEpTitleDirected by:Written by:Original air date
61 1 "The Troubleshooter" Stuart Rosenberg Louis Pelletier 12 October 1961
A new 5 and 10 cent game using punch boards has become very popular and lucrative for the syndicate that controls it. With Eliot Ness and the Untouchables targeting them, receipts are down so they decide to accept New York hood Nate Selko's plan to deal with Ness. Selko's offer of a bribe is rejected by Ness out of hand so he goes to plan B: set Ness up to shoot a man who is apparently unarmed. Ness knows he was fired at first but when no gun is found anywhere at the scene, it becomes front page news and he's forced to defend himself both publicly and to the DA.
62 2 "Power Play" Paul Wendkos Harry Kronman 19 October 1961
With a public outcry over the level of gang violence in Chicago, the authorities appoint retired lawyer Willard Thornton to the new post of Crime Commissioner. What no one realizes is that he has formed a new syndicate bent on importing and distributing narcotics. When the new cartel's enforcer, Steve "Country Boy" Parrish, is arrested by Eliot Ness he is soon out on bail thanks to bail bondsman Barney Lubin, a Thornton associate. Parrish knows that Thornton's style is to eliminate any possible risk to his reputation so he is soon on the lam, living in the back room of a country garage run by Emmy Sarver. She has her own ideas, primarily focused on keeping Parrish around. As both Ness and Thornton close in, Country Boy Parrish must face the wrath of a woman scorned.
63 3 "Tunnel of Horrors" Stuart Rosenberg John Mantley 26 October 1961
Acting on an anonymous tip, Eliot Ness and his men find themselves at a local carnival keeping an eye on an impending purchase of narcotics. The seller is Alexander Rader, a known drug dealer and the buyer is Arnold Justin on behalf of Frank Nitti. They are scheduled to meet in an electrical room accessible only through the tunnel of horrors tide. Justin is an ex-Chief of Detectives who was always honest when on the force but decided he was fed up putting his life on the line for minimal pay so he quit and now acts as a buyer for the mob. Unfortunately, he also realizes that the park is under police surveillance and refuses to go through with the buy. When the drugs disappear, Frank Nitti makes it quite clear that he expects Justin to deliver the goods, or else.
64 4 "The Genna Brothers" Paul Wendkos Harry Kronman 2 November 1961
Within a few years of their arrival in the USA, the six Genna brothers have firmly establish themselves in Chicago's criminal community. Established in Chicago's Little Italy, they provide the Capone empire with illicit liquor that they have produced through a network of home distilleries that may only produce one gallon a day each. They also smuggle illegal aliens into the country and hold the threat of returning them to the old country if they don't do what they're told. Eliot Ness and his men have been trying to break up the Gennas network, but it has proved difficult to do as they can only find a few bottles at a time. With the help of a respected member of the local community, Carlo Giovanni, they try to get more information about the illegal operations. When the youngest Genna brother takes an interest in Giovanni's daughter, Ness moves in leading to a showdown with the family members.
65 5 "The Matt Bass Scheme" Stuart Rosenberg David Zelag Goodman 9 November 1961
Matt Bass is an ex-con and a former member of Al Capone's criminal empire. In prison, a fellow con, engineer Jason Fiddler develops what he thinks is the perfect way to deliver illicit liquor to central Chicago. Once out of jail, Bass approaches his old friend Frank Nitti to sell the idea. Nitti has been hit hard lately by Eliot Ness and the Untouchables who have pretty well shut down most of his distilleries and the speakeasies are starting to close their doors. Nitti tries to solve the delivery problem himself but in the end, agrees to Bass and Fiddler's scheme. Ness is soon on to them, however.
66 6 "Loophole" Paul Wendkos Harry Kronman 16 November 1961
Morton Halas is an aggressive and very successful defense attorney who will stop at nothing to get his clients off. Having successfully defended Big Mike Probich he finds himself working for Larry Coombs, another small-time mobster who has ambition to rise to the top. Coombs and his top enforcer Whitey Metz decide to knock off Probich and take over his network. They succeed but things don't go as smoothly as planned and Eliot Ness soon has an eye witness who can identify both of them. Halas has a flair for the dramatic and just as the verdict in the case is about to be announced, he arranges for someone to stand up in open court and announce, with murder weapon in hand, that he is the killer. Ness and the District Attorney know that the fix is in and find they have to rely on their own trickery if Halas, Coombs and Metz are to face justice.
67 7 "Jigsaw" Paul Wendkos George Eckstein 23 November 1961
Frank Nitti has a major problem: someone in his organization is leaking information to Eliot Ness and the Untouchables. They've closed down several of his distilleries and several members of the organization are starting to question Nitti's leadership. He decides to seek out someone who used to work for Al Capone, Walter Trager known as the Leaker, who has a knack for finding and closing down leaks in the organization. Trager narrows the possible list of leakers down to two people: Nitti driver Marty Wilger and his own brother-in-law Harry Mailer, a local politician on Nitti's payroll. Nitti orders them both killed but doesn't realize that Trager is out to take over the entire organization. Trager's sister, now a widow, has her own plans as well.
68 8 "Man Killer" Stuart Rosenberg Sy Salkowitz 7 December 1961
Eliot Ness and his men are having success shutting down the narcotics trade in Chicago thanks to a series of anonymous telephone tips. Ness manages to trace the call to a phone booth and identify the caller as Nick Dulov, owner of the Windy City cab company. Dulov has stolen Nitti's 15 kilo shipment of heroin and then gives it back to him — with a proposition that they go into the narcotics distribution business together. Dulov's wife, Georgiana Drake, is fed up with their relationship however and having killed her husband tries to convince Nitti to do business with her. Her proposal is to use her fleet of taxis — and those in several other cities as well — as mobile narcotics stores and having the junkies come to them, rather than the other way around, and offer a free fix to anyone who brings in a new customer.
69 9 "City Without a Name" Paul Wendkos John Mantley 14 December 1961
After a Federal Agent is gunned down, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables arrive in town to try to solve their colleague's murder. The perpetrator is believed to be Lou Mungo and his precipitous action is exactly the opening Frank Nitti was waiting for so he could move in himself. Nitti hires the smooth talking gambler Sebastian to convince Mungo to hand over his contacts at City Hall and he soon has the information he needs to blackmail Mungo. With Nitti putting pressure on Sebastian to get the deal done, Mungo decides to play hardball. Ness meanwhile is slowly building the case against Mungo for the murder.
70 10 "Hammerlock" Stuart Rosenberg Mel Goldberg 21 December 1961
Always looking to expand their area of control, the mob is now out to get control of the bakery industry. Eliot Ness is in New York to testify at a trial and the local US Attorney asks him to stay on to help with the problem. Under the control of the Syndicate, Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter tasks Bryan "Bull" Hanlon to gain control of the industry by establishing a truckers association to get control of deliveries. Hanlon's inclination is to start with small bakers and slowly move up but under orders, he goes after the largest baker in the industry, Adam Stone. Highly respected in the industry, Stone is an old school businessman who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty or get down on his hands and knees to fix a piece of equipment. He wants nothing to do with the mob and isn't afraid to stand up to them. Until they threaten to harm his daughter Marcia, a dancer on Coney Island, who he has not seen for many years.
71 11 "The Canada Run" Bernard McEveety Harry Kronman, Barry Trivers 4 January 1962
Father Francis Gregory thinks nothing short of a miracle has happened when Joe Palakopolous, known as Mr. Pal to his friends, walks into his church. Pal is very generous and provides several hundred dollars to start up and maintain a soup kitchen. He also buys the church a new organ and puts up a brightly lit cross atop the church steeple. What Father Gregory doesn't know is that Pal is a gangster who smuggles in whiskey from Canada and is using this small community as a base of operations. Ness and his men are soon onto Pal when a top brand of Canadian whiskey, Canada Gold, suddenly starts to appear on the market. They soon focus on Pal and realize that his generosity to the Church, especially the brightly lit cross, all have a specific purpose.
72 12 "Fall Guy" Bernard L. Kowalski David P. Harmon 11 January 1962
After mob hit man Frankie Gruder kills a warehouseman — and is almost nabbed by Eliot Ness and his men in the process — he turns to his old friend Julius Vernon to get him out of it. Vernon conspires with Willie Willinsky, who knows practically every crook in town, to find someone to plead guilty to the murder. The fraud works so well that Vernon suggests the three of them form an employment agency of sorts. Anyone who wants a crime committed need only tell them what they want done. Vernon will devise the scheme, Willinsky will find the men to make it happen and Gruder will provide the muscle. They decide that they also need a figurehead to take the rap if they get caught so they focus on recruiting Big Joe Holvak who has just been released from prison after serving his 10 year sentence. Joe doesn't realize what he's gotten himself into nor that time has also passed him by.
73 13 "The Gang War" Paul Wendkos John Mantley 18 January 1962
When gangsters invade and shoot up a speakeasy on the outskirts of Chicago, Ness thinks Frank Nitti may be trying to get rid of some of his competition. When one of Nitti's joints is bombed soon after, the authorities are worried that a massive gang war may erupt. The problem for Nitti is that the out-of-town clubs are getting quality booze smuggled in from Canada and its drawing away his well-heeled customers. He learns from one of the roadhouse managers that Parnise Surigao has been importing the liquor but he won't reveal where or how he's doing it. When Nitti takes one of the smugglers hostage and learns where Surigao is storing his liquor, he decides to get his hands on it.
74 14 "Silent Partner" Abner Biberman Harry Kronman 1 February 1962
When Wallace Laughton is killed by Federal Agents, a mysterious man known only as The Partner orders that the agent responsible be eliminated. The Partner is a mysterious man whose identity is known to only a very few. He is reputedly the top man in organized crime. Lee Hobson is the agent responsible for shooting Laughton but when Eliot Ness gets wind of the contract, he claims responsibility and makes a point of telling the Press. Lee is taken aback with Eliot's moves and resents what he sees as his boss taking all the glory. When the contract killers kidnap Lee as bait to lure Ness into a trap, he learns exactly what his good friend is doing.
75 15 "The Whitey Steele Story" Abner Biberman George Eckstein 8 February 1962
In New York on a case, Eliot Ness learns that mobster Joe Kulak is out to get control of the racing wire. The wire provides horse racing results from tracks across the country to betting parlors and bookies. The mob is out to get control of Michael Barrigan's wire service and they've killed Barrigan's two partners to put pressure on him. With information that Gregory Pindar will be running the mob's wire service, Ness travels to San Francisco undercover posing as hoodlum Whitey Steele to see if he can infiltrate the new operation. He gets a job with Pindar and learns that Pindar may also be importing heroin. Problems arise when a New York mobster, who knows Ness, shows up in town.
76 16 "The Death Tree" Vincent McEveety Harry Kronman 15 February 1962
In the Gypsy quarter of Chicago, drunkenness is taking its toll in fights and killings. The local community elders, known as the Senate, want to bring it to an end but come into conflict with Janos Colescou, owner of much of the illicit liquor distribution in the area. He kills the head of the Senate, Victor Bartok and when the opposition continues, kills his brother Fedor. Throughout, Colescou has revived an old custom of posting his victims name on an old tree in the neighborhood. For Ness and his men, the goal is to try to bring Colescou out into the open and for that they get help from Victor Bartok's daughter Magda. She tells him that Colescou has personal reasons for wanting to get rid of the Bartoks.
77 17 "Takeover" Bernard L. Kowalski Theodore Apstein, Sy Salkowitz 1 March 1962
The demand for real beer goes unabated and Charlie Zenko tries to consolidate his control of the North side of Chicago. He arranges for brew master Franz Koenig to get a visit from Eliot Ness. At his trial however, Koenig is saved when a stranger, Leo Mencken, provides him with the alibi he needs. Soon Koenig and Mencken are partners and are using Mencken's unique way of temporarily masking the re-alcoholization of the beer they produce. Charlie Zenko is none too pleased that his competition is back on the street but has the good sense to check with New York mobster Joe Kulak who confirms that Mencken is working for him. When they finally meet, Charlie Zenko is shocked to see just who Leo Mencken really is.
78 18 "The Stryker Brothers" Stuart Rosenberg Gilbert Ralston 8 March 1962
Soon after the three Stryker brothers rob a train, killing someone in the process, Eliot Ness and his untouchables are on their trail. They get a warrant and seize the Strykers books and papers hoping to find something incriminating. The dim-witted Benny Striker has kept a piece of correspondence from the train robbery and his brothers decide they need to somehow get rid of that evidence. Benny approaches an old friend Mr. Jaeger, a retired arsonist, to set the Federal building's evidence room on fire and destroy the documents. He succeeds, but Ness uses basic psychology to ferret out Jaeger and the Stryker brothers.
79 19 "Element of Danger" Bernard L. Kowalski John Mantley 22 March 1962
Victor Rait has developed a new method for converting opium to heroin and he and his partner Arnold Stegler hope to make a handsome profit. When Rait kills a Chicago policeman, who was actually on loan and working for Eliot Ness, he realizes that they have to clear out of their current location. Just as they are leaving Ness and his men arrives and Rait pretends to be an innocent bystander and witness to the shooting. When Stegler decides to eliminate Rait, Ness decides to use that to get Victor to cooperate.
80 20 "The Maggie Storm Story" Stuart Rosenberg George Eckstein 29 March 1962
When junkie Benny Rivas is stopped by Eliot Ness and his men, he tells them in his dying breath that the source of his heroin is the 808 Club. Ness knows the club's hostess, Maggie Storm, quite well. She's married to the frequently absent owner and denies any knowledge of drugs being sold on the premises. In fact, she has set up a very clever trading floor where mobsters bid for anything from drugs to counterfeit money. She has a bigger problem however when Louis "Lepke" Buchalter decides he wants to take over the club and sends his murderous henchman Vince Shirer to eliminate anyone that might stand in his way. Ness decides to recruit a soon to be paroled mobster to infiltrate the organization.
81 21 "Man in the Middle" Bernard L. Kowalski Harry Kronman 5 April 1962
Slot machines have become all the rage and William '"orker" Davis is making a fortune on all of those nickels and dimes. He soon comes under pressure from mobster Joe Bomer who's prepared to let him stay in business provided he gives the players a 70% return on their bets thereby making sure they will always come back. Davis agrees but when Bomer finds out the machines have been doctored to pay out less, Davis is soon on the run. Turns out it's Davis' friend and Bomer employee Benjy Liemer who has been fiddling with the machines and also providing Ness with anonymous tips.
82 22 "Downfall" Stuart Rosenberg Robert Libott 3 May 1962
Joseph December is a legitimate businessman and the scion of a wealthy family who own the Great Lakes Pacific railroad which, by all accounts, is on its last legs. With Eliot Ness receiving hot tips and managing to intercept liquor being smuggled in from Canada, Al Capone enforcer Pete "The Persuader" Kalmiski and his underling Allan Sitkin approach December to make a deal. In return for letting them use his railway, December get to keep 20% of the proceeds. The death of a railway track worker however puts Ness and the Untouchables onto the scheme. When a side deal on shares with Sitkin goes bad and he commits suicide, December gets hold of information that he hopes he can use against Kalmiski. December's right hand man, Henry Grunther, is appalled at what is happening to the company and seeks Ness' assistance.
83 23 "The Case Against Eliot Ness" Bernard L. Kowalski George Eckstein 10 May 1962
Mitchell Grandin is a prominent citizen of Chicago. As a former councilman and organizer of many charitable events, he has gained a reputation that he tries to put to good use. He's also trying to get the concessions for a major international fair and exposition celebrating Chicago's centenary and has hired a hit man to get rid of his competitors. When Eliot Ness tells the organizing committee that Grandin may be dirty, he finds himself being sued for slander to the tune of $500,000. His only possible defense is to prove that his suspicions are correct.
84 24 "The Ginnie Littlesmith Story" Stuart Rosenberg Leonard Kantor 17 May 1962
A vice ring known as the Group has been hiding their speakeasies and brothels by using free soup kitchens as a front. When white slaver Chez Goshen dies his niece, Ginnie Littlesmith, decides to take possession of the Group's books. She had worked for her uncle and feels it is her inheritance. Enforcer Vic Cassandros tries to seduce the spinsterish Ginnie to get his hands on those books. Eliot Ness wants to get his hands on them as well knowing it would be the end of that racket.
85 25 "The Contract" Bernard L. Kowalski George Eckstein 31 May 1962
When the attempted assassination of small-time hood Smiley Barris, New York mobster Joe Kulak hires cold-blooded assassin Ray Quist to kill him. Ness tries to get Barris to cooperate but he refuses. When a second attempt on Barris goes wrong, Barris calls his Johnny Templar to help him out. Templar runs a gambling boat that goes out to sea beyond the three mile limit and beyond the long arm of the law. Templar hides his friend Barris on board so Joe Kulak turns the tables on both of them. He cancels Quist's contract and gives it to Templar - who knows that anyone who fails to deliver on a contract is executed. When Templar has second thoughts about killing his friend, he soon finds that Quist is after him.
86 26 "Pressure" Vincent McEveety Harry Kronman 14 June 1962
With the end of Prohibition, gangsters have now focused on the drug trade. A New York-based syndicate known as the Big Six, long established in the illegal drug business, visit drug distributor Louis "The Bear" Madikoff in Chicago who has had his recent shipments to Lucky Luciano in New York picked off by Eliot Ness and his agents. Madikoff is convinced that fellow Chicago drug dealer Mike Pavanos is responsible for feeding Ness with information so he sets out to even the score. It turns out however that Madikoff's son Danny is dating Pavano's daughter Francie. Their fathers blind hatred of one another leads to tragedy.
87 27 "Arsenal" Paul Wendkos John Mantley 28 June 1962
Frank Nitti and Bugs Moran are about to go to war, and to forestall that possibility, Elliot Ness and the Untouchables begin rounding up every machine gun owned by the gangsters' hitmen. To resupply himself, Nitti hires Polish gunsmith Jan Trobek to make a dozen Tommy guns. Unfortunately for Trobek and his wife, Nitti and Moran soon settle their differences, which means that the pair are now witnesses who could turn into liabilities for Nitti.
88 28 "The Monkey Wrench" Bernard L. Kowalski
George Eckstein, Sy Salkowitz 5 July 1962
The mobsters are fighting among themselves for greater control of the beer market and Frank Nitti thinks he has the perfect solution. He is smuggling German brew masters into the United States and as a result, is making a far superior product than his competitors. This doesn't sit well with the New York mob, particularly Joe Kulic who decides to do something about it. He hires enforcer Karl Hansa, a bit of a madman, to infiltrate Nitti's operation and shut it down. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are soon on to the whole scheme thanks to information from an attractive woman, Mady Collins, who seems to have taken a liking to Ness.
Season 4: 1962–63
NºEpTitleDirected by:Written by:Original air date
89 1 "The Night They Shot Santa Claus" Alex March Mort Thaw 25 September 1962
It's Christmas Eve 1930 and Eliot Ness and his men are investigating the murder of a close friend of his, Hap Levinson. The man had been playing Santa Claus at a children's orphanage and had just left when he was gunned down by a passing car. Levinson was the front man in a nightclub-speakeasy and he and Ness had spent many hours together laughing and passing the time of day. As Ness looks into his old friend's background, he learns that he may have had a girlfriend named Renée that he kept in a downtown apartment. It's readily apparent that she's a junkie and what he learns about his friend isn't pretty. Soon, mobsters are being knocked off and it seems someone is getting rid of witnesses to a crime.
90 2 "The Cooker in the Sky" Robert Butler John D.F. Black 2 October 1962
With their breweries being knocked off by the Feds, local mobsters bring in an outsider from New York, Joey Lassiter. Known as the best inside man in the business, he promises them a Ness-proof operation. Caught in the middle is Harry Gordon, the current inside man who now finds himself nothing more than an errand boy. Harry's wife Edna isn't too pleased and starts feeding information to Ness. She eventually convinces Harry to do the same and were it not for their tips, Ness would be completely in the dark. Soon, however, Ness and his men find the location of Lassiter's planned brewery on the 6th floor of an industrial building. Ness' plan is to let Lassiter finish the brewery before shutting it down but Agent Lee Hobson is concerned it will look like their on the take if they don't close it down immediately.
91 3 "The Chess Game" Stuart Rosenberg David Zelag Goodman 9 October 1962
Having had major successes in eliminating the illegal trade in champagne, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables suddenly find that the expensive wine is finding its way onto the market again. During one raid, they find that a couple of the bottles are frozen solid and Ness speculates that they may have been shipped in a refrigerated car. They trace the illegal shipment to Ira Bauer, a blind fish and seafood wholesaler. For Bauer, his lack sight is anything but an impediment. He particularly likes to play chess as a way of keeping his mind sharp. He and Ness are soon involved in their own game as the Treasury officer tries to get the evidence he needs to shut down Bauer's operation.
92 4 "The Economist" Paul Stanley Harold Gast 16 October 1962
With the price of illicit liquor bottoming out, Vincent Tunis suggests to his fellow syndicate members that they store their liquor rather than sell it, thereby creating an artificial shortage and pushing up the price. Eliot Ness and his men become aware of what's going on when the syndicate also starts to put small moonshiners out of business. When the only mobster who knows the location of the liquor is killed, Ness and his men try to find the only remaining truck driver from the job before the syndicate does.
93 5 "The Pea" Paul Stanley Harry Kronman 23 October 1962
Herbie Catcher is a small-time nobody who really wants to improve his status in life. He tries to impress those around him, but without success. He's even tried to feed information to Eliot Ness hoping for praise, but he really has nothing to offer. He's a busboy at a posh restaurant run by Max Zenner and he's not very good at it. On the verge of being fired, he claims to have a recently killed employee's book naming names and other activities that have gone on at the restaurant., especially having to do with mobster Martin Rawlings. His demands aren't that great: he wants to be named the Captain of the waiters but eventually greed takes hold and he forces Rawlings to make him a partner. Throughout, Eliot Ness warns Catcher that he's playing a dangerous game and getting involved with hoods can only lead to jail or death.
94 6 "Bird in the Hand" Walter Grauman Harry Kronman 30 October 1962
Gangster Arnie Kurtz is moving into Chicago's South Side and Eliot Ness very much wants to nab him, putting a 24 hour watch and tapping his phones. The operation is put in danger however when Kurtz inadvertently becomes part of a public health emergency. Against his better judgment -but at his wife's insistence - he agrees to let her brother Benno Fisk deliver $100,000 to a New York mobster. Unknown to anyone, Benno has contracted Parrot Fever from a recently acquired pet and collapses soon after his arrival. Federal health official frantically try to trace the source of the infectious disease. For Arnie Kurtz it may mean trouble as he and his wife have been caring for Benno's pets while he is away.
95 7 "The Eddie O'Gara Story" Robert Butler Carey Wilber 13 November 1962
Bugs Moran, hiding out since Al Capone eliminated his gang in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, is visited by Eddie O'Gara, a man he thought had been killed by rival gangsters several years previously. Although he never cared for O'Gara in the first place, Moran is intrigued when Eddie lays out a plan to put Moran back in charge of the rackets again. Meanwhile, Elliot Ness is looking for Moran and O'Gara, figuring that both will want revenge on the gangsters who are responsible for their plight and that he can use that to destroy the Chicago syndicates permanently.
96 8 "Elegy" Robert Butler Herman Groves 20 November 1962
When mobster Charley Radick learns that he has leukemia and only a short time to live, he decides the time has come to visit his daughter, Margaret, now a young woman. When Charley had gone to prison for a 10-year stretch, he had left her with the Wilsons but when he got out, he decided to concentrate on moving up in the rackets and left the girl with them. When he visits the Wilsons, however, he's told that Margaret left some three years before. When Eliot Ness learns that Radick is dying, he asks him to come clean and give him the organization's books. Radick makes a deal: if Ness can locate his daughter, he will give him the information he wants. Ness then turns to Lt. Agatha Stewart of the Missing Persons Bureau for help.
97 9 "Come and Kill Me" Robert Gist Kitty Buhler 27 November 1962
After a mobster with valuable information is killed in broad daylight at the racetrack, Eliot Ness and his men try to identify the killer. No one will admit knowing him but by tracing his movements, they find he was a regular visitor to the home of Dexter Lloyd Bayless who lives in a well-to-do suburb of Chicago. Through surveillance, they note that he has regular visitors in the afternoon and Ness decides to break into the house to plant a listening device. Through that, they learn that Bayless is running a very special school out of his home: a school for assassins.
98 10 "A Fist of Five" Ida Lupino Herman Groves 4 December 1962
Mike Brannon is a tough cop but his two blocks of Chicago are among the safest there are. He has a tendency to be rough with hoodlums and when he beats up one of Tony Lamberto's boys he finds himself on indefinite suspension. Fed up with his corrupt superiors, he decides the time has come for him to make some money so he enlists his four brothers in a plot to kidnap Lamberto and hold him for $150,000 ransom. Unbeknown to anyone, Lamberto had recently approached Eliot Ness with a proposition: he would be prepared to roll up his entire operation and retire if the District Attorney would ensure no jail time from his upcoming trial on tax evasion. Soon, both Lamberto's associates and Ness are looking for him with the Brannon brothers in the middle.
99 11 "The Floyd Gibbons Story" Robert Butler George Eckstein, Mort R. Lewis 11 December 1962
When newspaper man Carlton Edwards is gunned down on the street, the police and his friends initially think it's a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Eliot Ness and his men soon determine that Edwards was the target of a mob hit. His old friend, Floyd Gibbons, now a globe-trotting reporter, happens to be passing through Chicago and decides he's going to find the culprit. Working with Ness, they soon uncover that the hit was related to a series of articles Edwards was planning on the takeover of the scrap metal business by the mob.
100 12 "Doublecross" Paul Wendkos John Mantley 18 December 1962
Mobster Jake Kuzik is a major liquor supplier in Chicago and he doesn't hesitate to use strong arm tactics to keep his network of distributors and retailers in check. He's been having trouble getting supply lately and he comes under pressure — helped along by Eliot Ness and his men — to find liquor for sale or else. He forms an alliance with an arch-rival, Bugs Moran, to import half a million gallons of whiskey by train and they set up a clever deception to keep Federal agents off the scent.
101 13 "Search for a Dead Man" Robert Butler Harold Gast,
Herman Groves 1 January 1963
When a body is fished out of the river, Lt. Aggie Stewart of the Bureau of Missing Persons is put in charge of the case. After 10 days and having made little headway, the body is buried in a pauper's grave. As is her custom, she attends the funeral to see if anyone shows up. In this case, flowers are sent from a well-known mob-owned business. She manages to trace the woman who sent the flowers. Eliot Ness meanwhile is looking to stop the biggest shipment ever of illegal liquor worth well over $1 million. What they all soon realize is that the two cases are connected.
102 14 "The Speculator" Allen Reisner Max Ehrlich 8 January 1963
Leo Stazak is a small time con artist on the periphery of the mob and he decides to con Frank Nitti in a stock scam. Stazak is a fast talker and an expert liar who quickly gains Nitti's confidence. Soon, the big man has entrusted half a million dollars to Stazak who has been printing fake stock certificates. Ness is also on to Stazak's printer and it doesn't take long for Nitti to realize what is going on.
103 15 "Snowball" Alex March George Eckstein,
Norman Katkov 15 January 1963
Jack Parker is an up-and-coming young hustler who wants to become part of Frank Nitti's organization. He thinks there's an untapped market on university and college campuses but Nitti thinks he's just a nickel and dimer and isn't interested. Parker has been making his own booze and selling it through Benny Angel, who hangs around the campus actually selling the stuff to the kids. Parker decides to get Nitti's interest by secretly arranging to sell wood alcohol to students and then convincing Nitti that he can make sure the stuff sold to students is clean. When Benny Angel is found dead, Ness has another reason to find the man behind the scheme.
104 16 "Jake Dance" Robert Butler Gilbert Ralston 22 January 1963
When a large supply of hair tonic is stolen, Ness and the Untouchables are concerned that it may be used as a base for illegal — and deadly — liquor. Soon after, the stuff starts to appear flavored with ginger jake, a popular patent medicine. The result is a permanent neurological disorder that was first seen in a major outbreak in Kansas City. The first victim in Chicago is Mary Kay Spencer, a 17-year-old who drank the stuff while out on a date with her boyfriend. Working with public health officials, Ness tries to track down the source of the deadly hooch.
105 17 "Blues for a Gone Goose" Sherman Marks Don Brinkley 29 January 1963
Ray "Goose" Gander runs a jazz club in Chicago and he's coming under pressure from mobster Lou Cagan to sell booze at the club. Gander is a former musician who is in the business for the love of the music and wants nothing to do with selling the mob's liquor, but he's being backed into a corner. His protégé, trumpeter Eddie Moon, urges him to pack it in and go on the road but when Gander refuses, Eddie also talks him out of signing up with Cagan. When Gander is shot, Eddie blames himself for the death of his friend and mentor and he works with Eliot Ness and the Untouchables to bring Cagan down. He forms a partnership with Cagan to re-open Gander's club and he also starts an affair with Cagan's wife but he soon falls under suspicion.
106 18 "Globe of Death" Walter Grauman John Mantley 5 February 1963
Frank Nitti decides to import a large amount of heroin - $2 million worth. Eliot Ness is soon onto him and arrests the delivery man, Mr. Yang from Shanghai, but he no longer has the goods and they have no reason to detain him. Ness and one of his men travel to San Francisco to see if they can determine how the goods were smuggled into the country and determine that it entered on a passenger cruiser and was then shipped by air to Chicago enclosed in a large globe. Meanwhile, one of Nitti's fellow gangsters, Larry Bass, has his own plans for the drugs and assembles his own team to break into the bank vault where Nitti is temporarily storing the globe.
107 19 "An Eye for an Eye" Robert Gist John D.F. Black 19 February 1963
A father's heartbreak at his son's death leads him to partner with Eliot Ness to bring in a major liquor distributor. Charles Tarasovich knows his son delivered liquor for Sol Girsch and Ness knows it as well, but without a witness who's actually done business with Girsch, there's no chance of getting a conviction. Charles offers to set a trap for Girsch and Ness agrees. Girsch meanwhile has seen his business grow to over 500 distributors and now wants a better deal from those who manufacture the illicit liquor. He also brings in some mobsters from Detroit to make sure he gets it.
108 20 "Junk Man" Paul Wendkos Herman Groves 26 February 1963
Mobster Victor Salazar is out to steal a commercial shipment of morphine destined to a Chicago medical facility. Before he can do so however, it's snatched out from under him by one of his henchman, Steve Ballard. With Eliot Ness and his men have been keeping a close eye on Salazar, the drug kingpin desperately tries to find the junk. What he doesn't know is that another of his underlings, Barney Howe is actually Barney Retsick, a Federal narcotics Agent. Retsick and Ness work together to arrest all of the criminals before the narcotics, disguised as children's candy, hits the streets.
109 21 "The Man in the Cooler" Ida Lupino John D.F. Black 5 March 1963
"Fat" Augie Strom is Eliot Ness's target at the moment. His meat packing plant is not only a front for his illegal booze business, but in those pre-airconditioned days, its cooler is the only place a person his size can find a comfortable temperature. Eliot Ness has made contact with Al Remp in prison and arranged for him to rejoin Augie's organization upon release and communicate with the Untouchables. His wife Marcie is ignorant of his purposes and opposes his "gang" activities, even asking Ness to return him to prison for his safety. When the money gets good, Al decides to throw in with the mob for real. Who will win out? A greedy gangster or a loving wife?
110 22 "The Butcher's Boy" Allen Reisner Harry Kronman 12 March 1963
Phil Hedden operates a vicious extortion racket; as president of the Alliance of Master Butchers, he promises "protection" to the meat marketers of Chicago. His second in command is Davey McCain, a war buddy, who works with a rival, Gus Ducek, trying to muscle in on the operation. Ducek is given almost a third, but McCain is cut out. What can he do except have Ducek killed? The plot thickens when McCain and Hedden try to kill each other; Hedden winds up hanged on a meat hook; Mc Cain takes over. Eliot Ness sets out to thwart McCain's every move to possess Hedden's girl, his special table at Pierre's, his apartment... hoping to provoke him into an explosion which will result in his downfall. It does — literally.
111 23 "The Spoiler" Laslo Benedek Tony Barrett 26 March 1963
Johnny Mizo has been on the lam for several years working as a seaman on cargo ships. He left the country after stealing $200,000 from mobster Vince Majesky who has been waiting patiently for his return. On Mizo's arrival in the U.S., Majesky has his hoods waiting for him but they kill the wrong man so both Majesky and Eliot Ness are now on the lookout for him in Chicago. When he committed the original robbery, Mizo's brother was killed but that doesn't stop him from seeking his sister-in-law's help and recruiting his nephew Arnie as he attempts to recover the hidden loot.
112 24 "One Last Killing" Allen Reisner Harold Gast 2 April 1963
Eliot Ness knows that John "The Cropper" Cropsie killed Belle Alpine's husband and that she witnessed it but, for reasons of her own, she won't identify him. Cropsie is a small-time hood who wants to get into the big-time and gets a job loan-sharking for Julie Flack. One of his marks tells him that a local company has manufactured 50,000 gallons of industrial alcohol. He manages to steal the precious liquid and tries to sell it to Flack. Ness is onto him quickly and Cropsie has made a serious error in including Belle Alpine's brother-in-law Murray in his plans.
113 25 "The Giant Killer" Leonard Horn George Eckstein 9 April 1963
Ed "The Duke" Monte is sent to prison, and the reported informer is murdered on the orders of his son-in-law, Lou Sultan. Monte escapes from custody with the help of his bodyguard, Yanos Dalker, and vows to kill the real snitch. He does not allow Sultan or his daughter Barbara to know his whereabouts, suspecting they may be responsible. The old man was shot in the escape, so it becomes a race against time — who will win the ensuing gang war? Meanwhile Ness is not only trying to recapture Monte, but also identify the informer who gave info by Western Union; he discovers it was a woman. Could it be Monte's daughter?
114 26 "The Charlie Argos Story" Leonard Horn Harry Kronman, Robert Libott 16 April 1963
Prohibition has come to an end, and bootlegger Frank "The King" Argos has also come to the end of his life. Eliot Ness declines his request to become the executor of his estate, for obvious reasons. When he dies, his minions are appalled to learn about the provisions of The King's legacy. He's left his illegal empire (including $5 million in bonds) to his son Charlie, who was declared MIA at the very end of World War I. Charlie's bodyguard as a child and Argos' girlfriend recruit and train someone to pose as the long-lost son, but they find that he seems to know more about Charlie's childhood than they do.
115 27 "The Jazz Man" Vincent McEveety David Zelag Goodman 30 April 1963
When a police captain's son is arrested in a drug sweep, Eliot Ness decides to try to locate the source of the drugs. The pusher was someone known as Peepers but he dies before they can get much information from him. They do manage to trace him to Chicago nightclub owner Sal Rudin and believe the heroin originated in New Orleans. Ness travels to the Big Easy posing as a bass player and meets booking agent Russ Bogan, who is part of the distribution network. He also learns of their unique system of delivering the goods across the country.
116 28 "The Torpedo" Ida Lupino Ed Adamson, Carey Wilber 7 May 1963
Mobster Victor Kurtz makes peace with his main rival for illegal liquor distribution in Chicago's South Side, Monk Lyselle. All goes well for several months until Eliot Ness and his men begin to intervene. They begin to hijack Kurtz' trucks and he automatically assumes that Lyselle has broken their agreement. Over the several months there was peace, Kurtz' main gunman, Holly Kester, has lost his nerve and Ness focuses on him as a possible way to put both Kurtz and Lyselle out of business.
117 29 "Line of Fire" Robert Butler Tony Barrett, Irving J. McCarthy 14 May 1963
When one of Marty Pulaski's dance hall girls is shot by a sniper just outside his nightclub, he automatically assumes that his main rival, Vince Bogan, is responsible. Bogan controls most of the 10 cent dance halls in Chicago, but there has been peace between the two, mostly because of mobster Janos "Jake" Szabo. Marty loses his temper and kills Bogan which Szabo is willing to forgive, if Bogan really ordered the killing. When a second girl is killed, it becomes obvious that someone else is behind the killing and Marty tries to protect himself and his brother Herbie.
118 30 "A Taste for Pineapple" Alex March Will Lorin 21 May 1963
When racketeer Danny Mundt decides the time has come to get rid of Eliot Ness, he hires hit man Elroy Daldran. During World War I, Elroy had developed a taste for killing and he saw no reason to stop doing what he liked just because the war was over. His first attempt to get Ness — he tosses a grenade into his passing car — isn't entirely successful. Ness manages to jump out of the car before the grenade explodes but when he regains consciousness, he finds that he is blind. While Mundt is satisfied with the result, Elroy won't be satisfied until the job is completely done.
BUDHA NEVER SLEEPS
Dalit homicides as Celebration in Tamil cinema
The current psychological war against dalits in Indian cultural realm is fought by the brahmanical hegemony and ideology with inventions of newer psychological tools especially in cinema. It is evident in the texts of acclaimed tamil films which are celebrated as the depiction of village and real life outlets. These so called new generation tamil industrial cinema also revolves round the dichotomy of life/killing, elites/dalits, happiness/tears etc., and avoids the different complex political aspects of these two sided presentations. Killing of dalit identities and dalit bodies in the films like Veyil, Kadhal, Pruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, Vennila KabadiKuzhu etc., are cunningly avoided in the intellectual discourses and are celebrated as refreshements in tamil film culture in the realm of presentation and text. These films are read as the depiction of reality of village and dalit life which were neglected by the Indian cinema seems to be paradoxical. In the close analysis, these are nothing but the rebirth of feudal attacks against dalits prevailed in the past and is converted to a psychological style through the texts of these films. Brahmanical ideologies and economical powers attack the mindset of dalits and suppressed with new tools of killing of dalit bodies and characters and sympathizing through these films. The homicides or madness of dalit identities in the aforesaid films are on the one hand an indication of threat by the brahmanical hegemony to the subalterns that “you are being killed again” in the texts of cinematic expressions for this medium is largely influenced to the subaltern societies especially in Tamilnadu. Brahmanism assumes that it will make the downtrodden to think once again for a political fight to reach their standards of knowledge, money, living and power. Besides dalits cannot evolve with an alter texts in the main stream industries of Indian cinema with a positive political texts for they have lack of economical resources for film productions even though they are moving in a correct direction politically in the intellectual discourses which frightened the brahmanical ideologies in India in the present scenario . The irony is that these films are highly welcomed in the Kerala/Tamilnadu society as a versus element against the feudalized Malayalam/Tamil films and the complex political/psychological/sociological/economic characters of killings is really ignored and are sympathized at dalits being killed again and again.
Films like Veyil (directed by Vasantha Balan) and Kadhal (directed by Balaji Shakthivel) are produced by Sankar, the director who is considered as the most eminent commercial directors of Indian film industry. From his first film Gentleman onwards he streamed the pictures of brahmanical ideology on the screen. In his films like Gentleman, Indian, Muthalvan, Annyan and Sivaji, he used the brahmanical lines of ideologies like amassing wealth, killing, one man rule, and one man liberation which are fanatic and fascist which followed the route of Hindu feudalism in the Indian spectrum. He gained the name as a good “producer” by presenting the films like Veyil and Kadhal as down to earth movies. Shankar grabbed a clean image in the dialogues/discourse of mainstream intellectual and cultural industry by the production of these films. But in the close examination of the film Kadhal, provides with the underlined but clear textual message that if a dalit strive for an inter caste marriage, the result may be madness and the feudal energy prevails has that sort of power and back ground to attack them brutally and make them mad and to roam around. The subaltern mechanic role played by Bharat has one of the most pathetic “ending” since the evolution of Indian film for he happened to be a dalit and hailed from a slum. Unlike all other feudal heroes of Indian cinema he is depicted as a coward and is always in doubt about his lady lover and her relatives. In Veyil, Murukesan played by Pasupathy has a series of failures and “killings” in his life. He fails as a family man, lover, and human being in the movie. In the saga of Murukesan his inter caste love affair with an elite girl brutally ends in the suicide of her. The psychological posturing of this incident is nothing but inter caste affairs by elites especially to uneconomical dalits must be killed. Murukesan in Veyil and the mechanic boy in Kadhal, both being as dalits have the same mode of transformation of failures, violence against them, madness and killings.
The inter caste relationship in Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu (directed by Susindhran) and Paruthiveeran (directed by Amir Sulthan) are also being killed by the creators of both of these films. In Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu the dalit hero Marimuthu who was on the road to his ultimate victory in Kabadi competition and love affair is being killed. It was pictured as Marimuthu is being killed in an accident at the end of a Kabadi match. The character has inter caste love relationship and the girl doesn’t even know what happened to Marimuthu. Eventhough he was heroic his character is molded as inferior in all aspects except his confidence in Kabadi tournament. In Paruthiveeran there is the same text of dalit narration of characters. The protagonist is a hero in a village named Paruthi. The end of this character is brutal, pathetic and tragic. A dalit woman who is considered as a rogue is brutally killed as untold in Indian film history covering her in a sack and butchering her body. Pruthi veeran’s father who had an inter caste marriage is killed in an accident. Paruthiveeran’s lover Muthazhaku, who is from an elite caste family, is gang raped and killed by some lorry drivers. Paruthiveeran suicides after she is being killed. In Veyil and Paruthiveeran, the women who loved two Dalit identities are being killed.
In Subramaniapuram (directed by Sasikumar) killing of dalits has new brutal presentations. The homicides in the film were shock to the South Indian audience. In Subramaniapuram the elite caste girl who is the lover of the protagonist, Jai, becomes the tool for his homicide by her relatives. This theme was entirely different and shocking to the receivers of the film. She cannot do anything while her hero is stabbed to death in front of her. The Dalit character and the friend of Jai, Kanja Karuppu is the cheating element. Knife is piercing in the dalit body of Jai again and again. The inter caste marriage in this film also is blocked by these killings. And the dalits are pictured as the most violent and those who do the biggest violence are also dalits, ie. the receivers and donors are subalterns. This dichotomy denies further of different complexities of socialites like how dalits become violent, and who makes dalit as violent and who are the behind the curtain players.
One of the significant psychological characters that paved the success for these films are the sympathies gained from the audience to these characters. These characters remained in the mind of audiences as dark memories. They lived in the mind of people. But it is not empathy or confrontation with those characters. Or it is not the political analysis of the social formation of these characters. It is due to mere sympathy towards them. But on the other hand the brahmanical mass psyche of Kerala/Tamil societies enjoyed these killings underneath. Killings of dalits, their disability and madness are secretly enjoyed and celebrated in the Indian mass/mad psychology. And it is a trick of Brahmanical hegemony to highlight these films as a refreshment of Indian film texts. These are nothing but the celebration of homicides of dalits and subalterns.
Except Illayaraja's family (his bro Gangai Amaran) and their kids leading the Music Industry, there is a couple of third level or lower level actors who play in smaller roles like Chandrasekar are from dalit community. As far as dalits as hero, there is only one that I know of Parthban, who seems to be very successful in his movies, because he pretty much does direction, action, production and every other aspect of movies.
Our dalit girls the most beautiful among all the Indian woman, but you see there is not a single dalit female actor in the entire movie industry, I am pretty sure this is same with respect to all other states, there are hardly any in hindi movie, the multi crore movie business.
Even to act as Dr.Ambedkar they put some hindu or muslim actors, Buddha was portrayed by terrible caste hindu actors,
Rajinikanth, Kamalahasan and Karunanidhi are all casteist BSs, but the Dalits adore them and even build temples for them, infact, Rajinikanth's majority fans are dalits, I am pretty sure if a stat is done, it will reveal my prediction.
In the light of this background I just gave here, just imagine how terrible our own people in wasting their time, money and energy on casteistic film industry and actors.
Dalits must totaly ignore all the industries, must start creating their own, even business, they should start putting up their own business, it does not matter if it is smaller levels, it does not matter they will fail, but they must proceed to trash the movie industry.
Even the single great Dalit contributor Illayaraja is of no use to Dalits, except we can just say for name sake, he is an ardent Gandhi follower, what a waste. I never heard him talking or writing or making music about Ambedkar or Buddha, but he makes musics about some hindu personalities and ancient hindu saints. The tragedy of dalits betrayer does not stop with the politicians but it transcend just about every field?.
Just read the following Tamil Movie review, the writer made an excellent analysis that every single one here must read and pass on the message that we must clean up the Movie industry shit too!
Dalits & Indian Movies:
First and foremost, Dalits must learn to understand how detrimental and dangerous ideas, incidents and often dalit people depicted in Indian Movies, both hindi, tamil and other language movies.
As in every other field such as science, medicine, sports, or arts, Dalits are left out and kept outside the mainstream movies, but also kept out of smaller mediums like painting, illustrative media and sculpting etc, so imagine how Dalits will ever reach into the great Architecture or other such fields?.
In this regard, it is horrendously painful why Dalits never got into any of these fields, but dalits are the one who go and waste their hard earned money in movie theaters and in music shows etc?. The amount of money made in film industry alone is an amount unimaginable, billions and billions of US dollar equivalent, means several thousand crores per year.
I am pretty sure, like the dalits constitute abotu 30% of the population of India, the cinema and other business run by casteist people make enormous gain from selling to dalits, if roughly put about 40% of the movie/film industry money or even more is coming from Dalits, Dalits are obnoxiously addicted to movies and they will go hunger but will not keep themselves out of Movies, Tamil movie goers can be an extreme example in this analysis.
If this is the case, how tragic it is to see, there is no Dalit actor, director or producer that the world can talk about, let alone distributors or theater owners?. In Tamil Nadu for example, which is the example taken by the following link so I stick to discuss the known statistics, most of the directors are either Brahmins or the most backward barbaric Thevars/Gounders?. If this is not enough, let me tell you that 80% of those actors and ladies are brahmins, they chest beat all around the world saying they are the purerest of the pure came out of gods mouth, it is astounding to notice that they are the one who strip naked in movies, vulgar and arrogant. Even in the prostitution, the brahmins run the poor woman who go there to do this terrible livelihood, which majority of these poor comes from dalits and other most backward groups?.
French Hit 'Untouchables' Tops German Charts
by Scott Roxborough
COLOGNE, Germany - French culture clash comedy Untouchables, which has earned some $150 million in France, has pushed past David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows to top the German box office charts.
Director Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakasch's story of an unlikely friendship between a black ex-con and a wheelchair-bound white aristocrat has topped the French charts since its release last November. Distributor figures suggest Untouchables has sold around 500,000 tickets since its Jan. 5 bow in Germany, for a total box office of close to $5 million. German distributor Senator nearly tripled the number of prints - from 159 to 412 - for Untouchablesafter the film bowed in third place last weekend. The extra push paid off, and the film soared past its Hollywood competition.
If Untouchables can keep up the pace, it could overtake Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (2008) and Amelie(2001) as the most successful French release in the territory. Amelie, with 3.2 million admissions and and a total box office take of around $22 million, represents the high-water mark for French films in Germany.
Politics of Cinema:
Fans and Dalit Audiences
Dr. P. Kesava Kumar
The central theme of my paper is to understand what cinema means to Dalit audiences and how they negotiate their social identities in the context of cinema /star. I assume that watching cinema is a social activity located in its specific social, historical and political context. Broadly; the paper addresses three main points. Firstly, the entry of the Dalits into Public Space such as cinema hall and especially to the Balcony. The cinema hall is a site of Struggle between Dalits and the upper caste. Secondly, the responses of fan about cinema and its star, in terms of their specific caste/class identities. The complex process of the caste identity of the fans-both upper-castes and Dalits is negotiated in terms of their control over specific public places such as centers in a town, barber shop; 100 days celebrations, leadership in fans associations, and the visibility of a particular fans association/particular individual/social group into cinema hall and outside cinema hall. Thirdly, Dalit audience reception to the representation of them in cinema. This response is often contradictory , and very complex. Some Dalits are resent the way they portrayed in cinema, some others accept some roles as role models. I tried to analyze these responses.
Film as the text acquires meaning because of its viewers. The point is, film consumption seen as a site of cultural struggles in which variety of forms of power are exercised with different sorts of effects. This cultural struggle is, on going process over meaning and pleasure, which is central to construction of everyday life. The embeddedness of audience activity takes place a complex network of ongoing cultural practices and relationship.
Dalit audiences are not a unitary category. Within it there are men and women, urban and rural, old and young, rich and poor, and also differ with region. Because of these differences, there might be multiple meanings and multiple negotiations of film images. But at the same time all of them are victimized by the caste. It implies Dalit audiences how different they might be, heterogeneous seemingly free, but are related to the operations of forms of social power. Thus, watching film is also social and even collective practice rather individual. And the circulation and the reception of cinema situated in particular historical, social and political contexts of the audiences.
I am not discussing film and audiences as two separate categories. Film is located within society and audiences do exist prior to the institution of cinema or outside of it Audience may go on changing with time along with cinema. However, cinema acts as a mediating structure between hegemonic groups and subaltern groups. The conflict among ruling block and the subaltern groups trough various internal equations used to manifest in cinema. Cinema is one of the important cultural form is used to act as space to meet various social subjects of the society.
Political struggles and Cinema
The themes of films go on changing with the changing social circumstances. The early films of fifties (Mythology, fantasy, and folklore), reflect the general wish of Nehruvian reform of feudal structures. Later green revolution produces huge agrarian surpluses and wage labour, and this surplus turned into the capital for cinema. Around the same time, feudalism received serious blows from Naxalite movement (late sixties and seventies). The corresponding cultural form is depicting the crisis in feudalism through NTR films, followed by void of feudal patriarch. This was filled by Telugu nationalism. Later in eighties, rich peasant who also invested in cinema try to depict a situation of hero as an agent of condemning feudalism and assigning legitimacy to state. This can be seen as the popular expression of anti-feudal struggles. Green revolution in its dialectic, also had the seeds of assertion of dalits, which happen through wage labour, and state led developmental programmes. This culminates in massacre in Karamecbedu by upper castes over Dalits. An equally significant event disturbing the foundation of modern secular state is Mandal agitation. These incidents are symbols of increasing expression of dalits in public spaces from which they are hitherto excluded. In representing the turmoil, it has been increasingly difficult for dominant ideology to reproduce itself. The hero, usually representing the subaltern, has traveling through various routes, and in the climax used to resolve the crisis. Traveling through disturbed zones of social turmoil lower castes hero confronts upper caste female which had generated lot of anxiety among the middle class upper caste audiences. It has increasingly become difficult for film industry to produce a film acceptable to all audiences, which is posed as a crisis of mass film. This has met with several responses, one is increasing the importance of story line, and second one is the reshaping of star image.
Post nineties witnessed economic liberalization and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism. As a response to economic liberalization, reviving of local culture/ traditions has been shown as resolution of the problem, which can be seen in the films of S. V. Krisna Reddy and Krishna Vamsi in different form. At the same time, state in AP emerged as an agent of 'change', 'progress' and 'modernization’. There also emerged consumerist middle class audience totally devoid of any social concerns, as a propagators of the ideology of the state in the liberalization era, it can be seen m the films of Mani Ratnam and Ramgopal Varma. Surprisingly, there has also been large number of box office hit movies like Erra Synyam, Ose Ramulamma, a gap which is mass film, is left filled with it.
The composition of national modern is being continually challenged by the assertion of political identities based on caste and community. And the growth of cinema as a cultural phenomenon was coeval with series of political struggles by new constituency such as tribals, landless peasants, Dalits and women- altered the dominant political discourses in significant way.
A case study of Coastal Andhra town, Tenali
This study basically depends on my interviews of Dalit audiences of Tenali, a coastal Andhra town and its surrounding villages namely Nelapadu an Amrutalur.
Tenali is a very important town of having 2 lakh population of Guntur district of coastal Andhra. Tenali has been an important center of education and cultural activities. Andhra Praja Natyamandali, the cultural organisation of the communist movement was strong in Tenali and surrounding villages. Most of the first generation Telugu film actors, producers, writers, musicians, came from Tenali town. Tenali town was known for its tradition of several theatre groups.
In recent times, Tenali in Particular and Guntur district in general became center of Dalit movement The emergence of a small section of very articulate educational middle class challenged the social oppression by the upper castes especially the Kammas. The Tsundur massacre(1991), of datits led to a long battle with the upper castes. Tsundar is a village very close to Tenali Town.. In brief, one can argue that the Guntnr district-especially places like Tenali and nearby villages have educated and politically conscious dalits. There is always a situation of tension between the upper caste kamma and dalits in Tenali and other villages. Politically active and conscious dalits have serious contradictions with the land owning dominant upper castes- kammas,
I interviewed old people, youth, students, woman, and Fans Association members of the town and its surrounding villages. In order to get the feed back for better understanding of the audiences I interviewed theatre/film personalities such as Andhra Praja Natya Mandali activitsts, civil liberties persons, student leaders, Dalit activist*, Recording dancers, theatre owners and even police.
Dalit audience's responses are very varied. We have diverse accounts- younger generations and older generation, rural urban audiences, fan association members and other dalit men and women on film stars and their preferences of themes/stars.
Dalits entry into Balcony
Cinema hall, being public place feciliate a meeting of all sections of the society. In the cinema halls of villages, entry / non-entry into chair class is a serious issue for dalits. The fellow from Dalit community who wishes to sit in the balcony has to face problems from upper-castes. It is no way comfortable and creates a psychologically tease situation.
G. Ravichandra of age 34 years agricultural coolie, of Amartahur village near Tenali says: " I never went to chair class (balcony). I always go to bench class. We are workers in their fields. Though I can afford money to go to that class, voluntarily I dropped that idea to sit with them. The upper caste fellow Junks that the fellow who works in my field everyday is sitting beside me. If it is in town nobody bothers".
I have already mentioned Tsundur massacre, in which eight Dalits were killed. This massacre was a result of an incident took place in a cinema hall. Ravi, a college going Dalit student and son of a teacher went to a cinema hall. Ho sat in the Balcony. The upper caste Reddy Youth reacted violently and further in the course of time the massacre took place. The upper caste alleges that Ravi kept his leg on the chair of upper '
caste boy. it seems to be a spontaneous attack but it is not Already, in the village, there was a charged atmosphere between Dalits and upper caste people. Three months before the incident, dalits were socially boycotted by the upper-cast© people and were not allowed to work in their fields. On various small issues, these are ten cases filed in the police station on both sides. The conflicts among dalits and upper caste people reached a flash point in the cinema hall. In recent years, not only in Tsundur, bat conflicts took place in many villages. Reasons may be different, but the already existing conflicts and contradictions in the villages simultaneously reflecting in the cinema halls. There are incidents in Amrutalur between Kapu-Muslims vs Dalits and in Bbattiprolu between Dalits vs Kapus. These took place on the pretext of touching or pushing at ticket counter or spitting the pan on other unnoticed.
Entry into a cinema hall is theoretically/democratically available to every body but in practice it is not Entry into balcony does not depend on the capacity to buy a ticket to that class.
Fans Associations and Dalits
In day to day struggles, cinema increasingly playing an important role from eighties onwards. Various social and political issues fought around cinema - in cinema halls and outside. At the individual level one's emotions and aspirations are negotiated by identifying with the cinema stars. When the individual becomes a fan /member of fans association, we have a small collectivity which uses their star as a symbol to negotiate their identity with the cinema
NT RamaRao's entry into the politics (1982) brings lot of changes in the composition of audiences of cinema- in terms of political affiliations with stars. In coastal Andhra, NTR's entry into politics helpful to Kamrnas for establishing their supremacy. In that situation, Dalits who bad already conflicts with kammas started' disowning NTR in politics. After the Karamchedu massacre (1985) in which upper caste kammas killed 5 Dalits, Dalits kept themselves away from NTR and his TOP.
As the recording dancer, Mohan Rao, Dalit aged 50 years, of Tenali who gave number of programmes in coastal area says:
"I danced as NTR as long as NTR continued to act in films. When NTR entered elections, Christians(Read Dalits) did not like NTR' songs. After Karamchedu & Nirukonda they are telling me directly not to play NTR. After that I played Krishna for sometime."
Dalits and students struggles
Before Karamchedu massacre, the violent conflicts between Kamma and non -kamma can be seen in the college campus. In Tenali VSR&NVR college, which has the strength of 6,500 (1980) is always in a tense situation .Winning the Students Union Elections, is prestigious not only to the students different communities, politicians and the area as a whole. Against the Kamma domination in the college, an anti kamma bloc was framed in 1978 in which Dalits (particularly Itanagar , a Dalit locality of town) were the key players. This bloc consisted of Dalits, Kapus, Reddy, Brahmins and some B.C.*. In 11198-0-81 Dalits Student Devasahayam of Itanagar elected as President from non-kamma bloc with huge majority. IN the same year, Kamma Students with the help of outsiders stabs a Dalit student named Kennedy under the pretext that he harassed upper caste women students. This was followed the retaliation from Dalits. They beat the kamma Students wherever they found either in college or in Town. This issue further triggered the conflict between Kamma and Dalit students in remaining colleges of the district-Pedanandipadu college, PBN college, Ponnur, JKC College, Guntur etc. The consequent years in the V.SJL College Kammas beat up other students belonging to Reddy and Kapu castes for supporting Dalits.
Community identity and Fans associations
In this context, NTR's son Balakrishna entered the cine-field and his fans association was formed immediately in Tenali. This mainly consists of Kammas with some fans of NTR's extended support to his son. We may find Dalits are in Krishna fans initially due to this affiliation with congress. Even some were continuing today. And later many of them started liking Chiranjeevi as non-kamma hero. Chiranjeevi being a Kapu, almost all the Kapus owned him. Chiranjeevi became a rallying point of not only Kapus but other non Kamma and Congress sympathizers.
Among the audiences, the members in fans association are visible by their activity. Many of them cause from the lower classes of different castes and are more vocal. As S.V. Srrinivas who worked on Fans and Stars' argues: “Fan are talking public based on the ability of members of FA's to talk back to the star, to media, to film industry and different social-strata Fans became a public by talking among themselves with others. Fans provide the institutional space to do so.”
Fan associations shall be read in the light of the crisis in national-modern resulting from pressure exerted by the political society. Theatre based activity of fans associations assume tremendous political significance, because it involves challenging established modes of reinforcing of social hierarchies in public spaces. The take over of the theatre as well as public spaces by fans need to be read at an attempt by non -elite to make these spaces more inhabitable by establishing their physical presence and visibility.
Fans are always competing with members of other associations in every aspect There has always been a battle among the fan groups to establish their supremacy over the other. In a sense, these are struggles/assertions of social groups one over the other.
For instance bi the film Vaarasudu, Krishna acted as a father of Nagarjuna. In one of the scenes Nagarjuna pulls the color of Krishna. Immediately the fans of Nagarjuna take it as a sign of supremacy over the fens of Krishna. For that Krishna fens reacted and beat up the fans of Nagarjuna and even succeeded in removing that scene from the film. As the fen of Krishna, Amrit Raj, electrical worker , aged 27 years of Itanagar of Dalit locality of the Town felt "When he ( Nagarjuna ) caught his shirt, Nagarjuna fans were in a dominant position, no ! So they had to beat them up. He (Nagarjuna) came only recently no, so these groups went and bashed those. It happened on a large scale. Krishna fans are sick of him because of his acceptance to that scene: What is this we are so sincere and this guy had to go and agree to such a role. This scene was cut because of the protest by the fans"
In the VSR college around the year 1986, the conflict among the students groups took place in other form, Le. of the student's identification with Film Heroes. One's Social and political identifications reflected in the preferences of star and the differences led to conflicts. Students who are fans of Balakrishna are used to tear up the notebook covers having the picture of Chiranjeevi and Krishna. The fans of Chiranjeevi and Krishna use d to do the same with the fans of Balakrishna
Gondi Bhaskar , fan of Balakrishna , President of Yuvaratna International, 27 years, kamma, and also active worker of Tetugu Desam who proudly says without any hesitation:"So far we have beaten up everybody- the followers of Krishna, Akkintm Nageswar Rao, and confronted with Chiranjeevi we have upperhand in every thing. Either it is because of our influence or other reasons. No body tries to fight with us even by mistake. Even we are advanced, others will not. Others never invite confrontation with us.
Mangamma gari Manavadu, a film of Bala Krishna was shifted to some other theatre to have Krishna's Kanchu Kagada when the banners of KanchuKagada are being put, in the theatre premise, Krishna fens made an insulting comment against Balakrishna fans. ' This fellow is a hero and those are his fans'. Those Balakrishna fans, we are passing by beat up Krishna fans. In the town, main confrontation is in between Chiranjeevi fans and Balakrishna fans. There is other hero a fan like Nagarjuna and Venkatesh- they are not in a competition for stardom. These stars nave no particular social group's support
The major confrontation of Balakreishna fans with Chinanjeevi fans took place at the time of Chiranjeevi's Attakuyamudu Ammayikimogudu-- Muddula Mamayya of Balakrishna. The conflict took place on streets under the pretext that fans of Chiranjeevi were circulated pamphlets and put banners. They indirectly wrote comments about Balakrishna and in insulting language -one bastard is there. For that Balakrishna fans also responded by using the artistic dolls- they also put banners by writing against Chiranjeevi-' one crook is surrounded by ten.’ This leads to conflicts and both are confronted on the streets.
Chiranjeevi had multi associations and there are conflicts within Chiranjeevi fan's associations on various issues— this was a significant feature in 1990. BY the time 1990s non-kamma bloc became weakened and their internal contradictions were exposed Dalits were on one side, the kammas were on other side. Carte groups like Kapu and B.C's and Reddys are oscillating between them. At the time V.M. Ranga's assassination incident, kapus took initiative against Kammas and damaged the shops of Kammas and burnt the college belongs to them, ft took place with the moral support of Dalits, And there are occasions; the Dalits had conflicts with kapus and Yadavas (BC.'s) in the town. After the Tsundur massacre, against Dalits all upper caste people formed as a group, named, 'Sarvajanabhyudaya samithi' includes all upper castes-kamma, kapu„ Reddy, Brahmans and some B.C. caste groups and campaign that dalits were harassing women.
In the same year, 200 kamma youth from the town and surrounding villages, without having any context, unexpectedly came to VSR college, and beat up whom ever seem to be black in colour. Having the impression of Black being the Dalit.
Among non-kammas yadavas were also emerging with their economic rise and they also tried to maintain/ assert (heir identity in public. This background helps in understanding the fans of Chiranjeevi.
There are five major Chiranjeevi fans associations in Tenali. Among them Chiranjeevi swachanda seva samstha mainly lead by the kapus of Ramalingeswarapct, Tenali. Town wide Chiranjeevi fans association lead by a Muslim youth with the support of yadavas (BC) . There were some conflicts between these two fan association s of Chiranjeevi over issues such as one's banner is covered by others banner, the blocking of the name of the one Association, sharing of tickets issued to fans on the release of a new film, and so on, what is important here is struggle between various social groups for prominence, public visibility and also to acquire tickets and to sell them in Black market in some cases. The controversies at the time of release of Alluda Majaka and Hitler, arc two examples to cite. The conflicts between the fan groups are continuing.
Most of the dalits are fens of Chiranjeevi. As Dalits were not given prominent positions, the Dalit youth of Mutyamsetty palem, Dalit locality in Tenali, formed a separate association. This is one way of asserting their right to lead an association and also to have an identity of their own. In another controversy, Dalits of Mutyalamsettypalem and Kapus of Ramalingeswarapeta, entered into a fight on the occasion of 100th day celebrations show at Baavagaru Baagunnara", at Veda Deluxe, on the occasion of 100th day celebrations, there was a exclusive show for chiranjeevi fans at Veda Deluxe. When the fans were watching the film a dalit boy happened to hit a kapu with hand(in a drunken state) during a group dance of the fans. This small incident led to serious fight between the Dalits and Kapus. It resulted in breaking the chairs, beating up each other, the existing social tensions and the struggle for dominance at the Veda deluxe center is at the root of the conflict between fan groups.
Caste is an important factor in several conflicts among the fan associations. Fans agree that caste has become an issue among the Chiranjeevi fans. A staunch Chiranjeevi fan, Y. Anil Kumar, a Brahmin aged 30, spent Rs. 12000 to put up a cut out of Chiranjeevi on the occasion of the release of Hitler. He is slowly withdrawing from fan activity. He says, "Caste feeling is there (in fans associations). We don't like it. And also felt, kammas, have lot of caste feeling here at Tenali.”
The result of the search for onefs own carte hero in that the dalits started looking up for their own hero in the cinema field. One can see the mood of dalit fans in the comment made by Amrita Raju, who is a staunch fan of Krishna He says, “Recently a Prabhu Deva came here in the field. tSoirie (Dalits) said, "Arey! Until now we never had some one who belonged to us. Now Prabbudeva came .Let us focus on him, let us all contribute. 1 also would have contriibute like our fellow Dalits. But when they told me it is at fan level, I said, I am sorry". “They (read Dalits) said , that guy is Nayudu. They say, this guy is karama it seems. Why some obscure guy? Now our Prahhudeva came - A Christian. Let us form a fan club". "I said, No, every one has his own feelings. For me, it is Krishna, Krishna, Krishna"
The result of this kind of a debate is the formation of a Prabhudeva’s Fans Association by the Dalits of all the localities of Tenali. The Dalits used blue banners, which are symbolic of Bhahujana Samaj Party. Prabhudeva is seen as a Dalit because he is a Christian. Most of Christians in coastal Andhra happened to be Dalits. The fans believe those Prabhudeva dances faster than Chiranjeevi.
Barber's community who happened to be OBC’s, one , a marginalised community in the town. They are fans of Kamal Hasan. Most of the discussions about stars among various Social groups in the saloons. As a barber, he can not enter into a discussion and support a particular star. So they have Kamal Hassan as their star who is seen as non-controversial". One of the reasons for their liking Kamal Hassan could be the fact that Kamal Hassan played the rote of Barber in Aakali Rajyam.
Representation of dalits in cinema
Cinema has seen by its audiences as the institution has the modernistic feature of Secular-democratic. We can not find explicit statements about caste and religion. The discourse about the dalits takes place in the guise of class. Identification of character’s caste is left to one's guesswork. But in recent days, with the rise of dalit movement, Mandal Agitation- it is inevitable situation to film Industry to speak about issues related to caste in their own way.
The representation of Dalits in films and their response is interesting to examine. Ravi Kumar, a dalit (Madiga) working in a courier Service, (at (iuntakal) is a Ian of Chiranjeevi. He says that he has seen Pasivadi Pranasn 42 Utncs. In response to a question he says
"The story of Swayam Krishi is good But I Ad not like the role played hy chirajeevi as a cobbler". Another dalit (Madiga) Ananta Rao. , a Dalit student of B.Ed says ' Chiranjeevi has become a model for them(Dalits)'
Swayam Krishi was a film made by K. Viswanadh. K. Viswanadh tries to reform Dalits by Brahminising them. The theme of swayam krishi, is that one can become a bigman by doing hard work as a cobbler.
I conclude my presentation with the comment made by Yelamanchi Venkateswarlu, a barber of Tenali aged 24 years. He says," whenever the scenes relating to our occupations are shown (in the films tike Mondi Mogadu- Penki Pellam, Hittlcr, Aavokkati Adakku); we feel insulted and ashamed at that moment We have to become so self-conscious and look around the audience. The barbers are shown as comedians and jokers played by minor actors. That moment is really painful. What right does the cine person have to ridicule our occupation?
Amrit Raj a Dalit boy responded, ‘since we (Malas and Madiga) are fighting against each other, we became cheap in the eyes of cine people. If we don’t, then there is scope for cine people to make film on them’.
In debutant director Gurvinder Singh’s national award winning film Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan(Alms for a Blind Horse) the faces of the protagonists tell the story. The roughness, wrinkles, deep lines and blankness allude to the years of unspoken repression and torment. It’s a stark, fragile existence, be it the relentless drive through the dehumanized city as a rickshaw puller or seeing the demolition of your own home in the feudal village. While capturing a day in the lives of the downtrodden, the camera also reveals their minds--the alternating humiliation, discontent, dissent, anger and resignation. The restless calm on the surface harbours a simmering violence within. Here the oppressed are too helpless to bring about a change and the only explanation for their condition is: “God overlooked us a little”.
Based on Punjabi novelist and Jnanpeeth award winner professor Gurdial Singh's novel,Anhey… focuses on the subordination of the Dalits with immense dignity and depth and is a landmark in Dalit cinema in the way it steers away from conventional story-telling and overt propaganda. In fact, the power lies in not spelling things out. “I haven’t verbalized the caste issue. There’s a sensation, a restlessness, a movement, but I don’t clearly define anything,” says Gurvinder. It was while doing ethnographic research work in Punjab that he met and lived with the Dalit villagers, the balladeers from subaltern classes like the Mirasis and Valmikis and they have all become a part of the film to make it real and persuasive.
Hindi films may have boasted of a reformist Achhuut Kanya (1936), the love story of a Harijan girl and Brahmin boy, very early on in its life but there have been few Dalit stories and characters down the 100 years of cinema. Bimal Roy’s Sujata (1959) tugged at our heart strings with its portrayal of a the pain and dilemmas of an untouchable girl growing up in a Brahmin family, the untouchable Kachra spun the ball to our fascination in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan and last year’s slapdash Aarakshan had an utterly unconvincing Saif Ali Khan as the Dalit fobbing off caste biases despite being educated and empowered.
However, the more credible and sustained explorations of caste issues have been in off mainstream, parallel films like Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1974), Nishant (1975) and Samar(1999), Satyajit Ray’s TV film Sadgati (1981), Prakash Jha’s Damul (1985), Gautam Ghosh’sPaar (1984), Arun Kaul’s Diksha (1991), Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen (1994) and Gulzar’sHu Tu Tu (1999). The crowning effort has been Jabbar Patel’s 2000 biopic Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar with Mammootty playing the lead. And in the world of documentaries Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bheem Comrade and Ajay Bhardwaj’s Kitte Mil Ve Mahi are seminal discourses on the issue.
In the South the situation has been relatively better though the caste issue has also often come intertwined with larger themes of poverty and rural feudalism. According to film historian Theodore Baskaran the silent films and early talkies were committed to espousing Gandhian principle of anti-untouchability. In the 30s and 40s at least three Tamil films, all titledNandanar, were made on the Dalit saint. Tyagbhoomi (1939) had a revolutionary shot of a Gandhian priest opening the doors of a temple to a Dalit to offer him refuge from storm.Harijana Singham (1938) was another pathbreaking film on the issue. “In the post Independence years films began to avoid frontal confrontation with caste issues. Gandhian ideals were not saleable, entertainment became important,” says Baskaran. However, Cheran’s Bharathi Kannamma (1997) did portray a love story between a lower caste worker with his zamindar’s sister. And references to Dalits and Ambedkar can also be seen in films as recent as Naadodigal (2009). In the art house cinema circuit Malayalam filmmaker K. Ravindran’s Telugu film Harijan and B.V. Karanth’s Kannada film Chomana Dudi (1975) have been mileposts.
According to cultural commentator Sadanand Menon the predominant presence of Dalit culture in Tamil cinema has been through the heavy use of the “gaana pattu”. “The musical form has entered the popular consciousness but without the lower caste associations. It’s roots have been severed. It’s a cultural robbery, doesn’t acknowledge the source and the conditions of deprivation within which the music has emerged but exploits it for commercial purposes,” says Menon.
Forget the cinematic themes the presence of Dalits in the film industry itself has been thinner than any film’s plotline. Whatever talent exists is in the backend operations, not in front of the camera and only recently have we had a Dalit hero in Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag who made an unsuccessful debut in Miley Naa Miley Hum.
Why such an insignificant presence? Most are not embracing filmdom because not all of them have awareness about the industry and its intricacies. Those who have money and education opt for more conventional careers. “They would opt for IAS instead,” says writer-director Birendra Paswan, himself a Dalit.
A lot of them inhabit the film industry inconspicuously often hiding behind a pseudonym. “Actors who use Gautam as a surname are from backward class,” says Paswan. Even in the South where the upward mobility has been more pronounced in the field of art and culture the Dalits in the film industry are not as vocal as their literary counterparts. “You and I wouldn’t know that the person working with us is a Dalit,” says filmmaker Sashi Kumar. “There are many Dalits in the industry but they don’t want to stand up and identify themselves,” says Baskaran. One case in point has been iconic composer Illayaraja. “There is an intrinsic fear that people would come to know,” Paswan. Like in other fields a few Yadavs have made strides in Bollywood but here again an actor like Raj Kumar Yadav, seen in LSD, Ragini MMS andWasseypur... has now dropped Yadav from his name.
Also, to people living in deprivation and penury, Bollywood glamour is intimidating. “Someone who hasn’t even been on a bicycle does get overwhelmed by the BMWs and Pajeros,” says Paswan. But he thinks film industry is still much better than any other sphere of work. “Discrimination is in every field. In Bollywood they value success and creativity and are not as discriminating,” he says. No wonder he is gearing up to launch a new Dalit hero in his next filmSawaal. His name is Sanjeev. Without the Paswan. Source:outlookindia.com
Машинная вышивка, программа для вышивания, Разработка макета в вышивальной программе, Авторский диза VIVEK KUMARफिर सामने आया मीडिया का पक्षपात
Rise of the Dalit hero
Avijit Ghosh | August 20, 2011
Once the submissive underdog, he is now educated, assertive and ready to take on the system. The emerging Dalit hero is a sign of how Bollywood has evolved
It's an explosive encounter: An antireservation college vice-principal confronts a young Dalit lecturer on the issue of caste-based reservation. With a bunch of students within his earshot, he taunts the latter, "Hamare bachche din raat ragad ragad ke padhte rahein, aur admission ka mauka aaye to khairat loot lijiye aap log. Dar lagta hain na mehnat karne se? (Our kids slog at studies day and night. But when it comes to admission, you walk away with the freebies. You are afraid of facing the competition, right?). "
The fiery young Dalit (Saif Ali Khan) retorts. "Achcha! Hamein mehnat ka path padha rahe hain aap. Aapke khet jote humne, aapke faslein kaati humne, apke maweshi charaaye humne, aapke joote siye, bail haanke, naav chalaye, aapki gharon ki gandi naaliyon ki safai ki. Yahaan tak ki aapki tatti bhi sar par dhoyee humne. Hume mehnat sikhayenge aap! (You are lecturing us about hard work. We tilled your land, reaped your crop, grazed your cattle, stitched your shoes, rowed your boat, we have cleaned your dirty drains, we have even carried your shit on our head. And you lecture us on hard work). "
In mainstream Bollywood history, it would be hard to find a more assertive, erudite and historically-aware Dalit than the protagonist in Prakash Jha's Aarakshan. For a film industry that often pretends that the caste system does not exist, the portayal is indeed radical.
For centuries Dalits were oppressed in India. In Bollywood, they were primarily projected as victims. But in recent years, there's been a gradual change in their portrayal in Hindi films. The Dalit protagonists now are more assertive, confident and aware. Deepak Kumar, the Aarakshan protagonist, breaks new ground in several ways. The son of an ex-housemaid, he teaches applied mathematics in a college and goes to Cornell University for his doctoral thesis. He also romances the uppercaste daughter of his mentor principal Prabhakar Anand (played by Amitabh Bachchan). And when he finds that Anand has been wronged, he pulls no punches.
Deepak is everything a traditional Bollywood hero is;only a little more. He is educated, articulate, aspirational yet an idealist - he is a Dalit of the New Millennium. He represents a new template of Dalit protagonists, a distinct departure from the traditional representation in Hindi films.
"Aarakshan's Dalit hero indicates a change in Bollywood perceptions. After the onset of liberalisation in 1990, India began changing faster than ever before. Hindi cinema too can't resist desegregation for long, " says Dalit columnist Chandrabhan Prasad.
Dalit protagonists in two well-known mainstream Hindi films exemplify this change. In Bollywood, where heroes are often conveniently named either Ravi Malhotra or Vijay Chauhan, Gulzar's Chachi 420 (1998) provided an interesting twist to the surname. The film's regular hero is Jaishankar Paswan (Kamal Haasan). He is a music composer by profession and in love with the daughter of a conservative Brahmin businessman Durgaprasad Bharadwaj (Amrish Puri).
When the latter comes to know that his daughter wants to marry a Dalit, he points out the caste difference between the two. "Bharadwaj aur Paswan - thoda besura sa nahin lagta hai (Together don't they sound out of tune), " he says something to that effect.
But the movie, a rollicking desi adaptation of Mrs Doubtfire, steers clear of addressing caste anywhere else.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya (2007) also had a radically new Dalit: a bold police officer Pannalal Chauhar (Sanjay Dutt) who not only asserts his Dalit identity but also bristles against the castebased feudal oppression that still pervades parts of Rajasthan.
Admittedly, though, the change needs to be deeper. The truth is that even as India is poised to celebrate 100 years of cinema in 2013, the Hindi film industry has failed to produce a single Dalit star.
Says D Shyam Babu, former fellow, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, "The trick of the system is that no Dalit actor came up to that mark to be accepted or rejected. "
Now well-known politician Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag Paswan is likely to make his B-town debut opposite Kangana Ranaut. The completion of the film titled, One and Only, however, has been delayed.
There's a sliver of hope though. Birendra Paswan, a dialogue writer in Hindi and Bhojpuri films, says more and more Dalit boys from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are joining the film industry. "Some of them want to be actors, others technicians. That's a welcome change. But a lot more needs to be done to make them feel more comfortable. Even today 90 per cent of them want to hide their identity, " says Paswan.
Angadi Theru: Soft killing weapon of celluloid
By Rupesh Kumar
‘Angadi theru’ is the latest offering of Brahmanical experiments in the cultural landscape of Tamil or Indian cinema. Under the pretext of presenting ‘real’ life experiences of Dalits, a casteist capsule bomb is deployed, it is intended to satisfy the Brahmanical mind set of the film maker and aesthetes of upper caste audience on the one hand, and on the other it cultivates images of dalit identities that are deeply disturbing.
In Angadi theru, the plot revolves around sales persons of a textile business, living in a Chennai street. The film posits to discuss the grave issues of these people who are mostly Dalits.
Towards this, the film renders scenes of their dirty mess, toilets, diseases, madness, begging, death etc., Vasantha Balan, the director, claimed (in a television interview), Angadi theru as the story of “border lined” people.
The Dalit lead character Jyothilingam, hailed from a village and works as a sales man in a textile shop in Chennai, he is in love with Kani, a sales girl in the same shop. Marimuthu, his friend is in a relationship with Sophie and the camera moves through many such lives in Angadi theru. One Dalit in the film is characterized as a toilet cleaner, is nothing but the ‘appointment’ of the director according to Hindu Varnashrama, however, when he becomes economically independent, is shown as a comical character (The scene when the toilet cleaner exits from a train wearing a red T shirt).
Several forms of violence against the Dalit body and psyche are experimented in this film. Jyothilingam, is subjected to physical attacks from the supervisor of the textile shop, the Brahmin owner, as well as his co -worker. He is shown as being capable of reacting physically against the supervisor and the Dalit co-workers, but can’t even touch the Brahmin business owner. According to the brahmanical grammar and equations, the in-between physical fights are only by Dalits and OBCs. But at a time when one blow has to be given to a Dalit, the Brahmin owner appears and thrashes Jyothilingam and asks his subordinates to throw out that “dog’ from the job. This was when Jyothilingam reacts against the oppression in that textile shop.
Vasanatha Balan’s previous experiments with violence on the Dalits were successfully carried out in his film ‘Veyil’. In which the Dalit’s love, psyche and life are shattered and killed in different ways, and it went on to receive wide acclamation from the Indian and international audience and media as an intelligent presentation.
Death, madness and fate play a key role in defining Dalit lives and tragedies in Angadi theru; the sales girl who commits suicide is eccentric or mad before she ‘fell’ to death. The boy who loved her becomes mad and perishes. When Jyothilingam and Kani are entirely freed from the textile business, the film director attacks their life with ‘fate’ in the form of an accident. Kani loses both her legs and has to live a life of a cripple after that (nowadays it appears like a hobby on the part of casteist film makers to present Dalit characters as physically handicapped).
This overdose of tragedies in Dalit lives presents Dalits as born only to live a life of sorrow and tragedy without the capability of subjective thinking and fighting against the system. This is actually so far from the truth, Dalits take more positive decisions than just commit suicides, and they are not mentally fragile to go mad at short notices as depicted by this filmmaker.
Regarding women, it is humorous that the filmmaker presents the morale of chastity, dragging the film back to a century; the woman in the street who married a dwarf is shown to be so proud to have a kid born exactly like the father with crippled legs and claims her chastity is now unquestionable! Are the women in India living only to preserve their chastity? The moral texts of patriarchal Hindu philosophy are trashed upon the viewers and it is just pathetic. Vasantha Balan has to present this to an audience before Lumiere brothers. The film takes the sister of Kani, ‘when she becomes a woman’ (?) to a brahmanical temple structure for the coming of age ceremony. A woman in the temple tells that women during the menstrual period are not untouchable in that temple, but at the next shot, a Brahmin priest’s close up is shown. The camera can’t cheat, and the visuals slipped from the director’s brain.
A small child calls Marimuthu, a pig, in one scene (strangely that the kid looked just about a year old); here the fat black body is treated as stupid and animal-like as usual. For strange reasons, Sophie, the Dalit girl who loves Marimuthu, has been cunningly omitted/ignored towards the end of the movie. The romantic relationship between Marimuthu and Sophie has been given a comical end, for, Marimuthu cannot write a poem to Sophie! Marimuthu’s inability to write a poem is because he is uneducated, one wonders then, if education makes everyone a poet, then all upper castes that have availed it, must indeed be poets!
The romance, support and friendship of Marimuthu and Sophie who are colleagues as well as in love are thus trivialized and killed in this film.
Reinforcing endless stereotypes the film tries to lay claim as a presentation of Dalits ‘real’ life. But real life is different from this reel, people from various oppressed back grounds in the caste society, including places such as Angadi theru are presently raising so many subjective political questions and debates, all of which the film Angadi theru cunningly avoids or ignores. Therefore the suppression of personal and political emancipation of Dalits becomes the primary ‘responsibility’ of this film.
No attempt is made to screen the political struggles, thinking and reactions from these border-lined people/Dalits against the brahmanical and casteist power structures. Dalits are capable of offering new political alternatives based on their lived experience, and are capable of emancipating themselves to higher strata in society through various struggles, than to be just passive recipients of sympathy, love, or fate, as rendered in Angadi theru. Besides their subjective experiences, they derive energy from Dr Ambedkar and so many other political struggles in different parts of India, against caste system. Director Vasantha Balan with his camera interferes in this crucial point in history and creates a notion that the Dalit identities and societies are capable only for reception of dull sentiments. And they can only react verbally as done by the lead character.
There is not even a single political question posed by the film’s creators, implicitly stating that they are not capable of ever questioning; the brahmanical hegemony of a corrupt business empire run by the owner, of the various illicit connections with other power structures like police and politicians. The film is simply frightened to raise such questions. And in the tears of love towards ‘tragic Dalits’, the raging fires of real political questions are being extinguished in the theatres.
Thus on closer examination, this ‘real life’ film positions the brahmanical theories of psychological hegemony by attacking Dalit identities and psyche with tools like violence, sympathy and fate. Previously, Indian film culture used these tools more evidently against dalits, minorities and women, but after being strongly criticized by Dalit intellectuals through reviews and in their political readings and discussions it has paved way for a rethink and inventing of new ‘equipments’ and ‘strategies’ to kill Dalits through tools of popular art and culture, besides their atrocities in mainstream society.
The homicides of Dalits physically and psychologically were previously experimented in Tamil films like Paruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, Vennila Kabadikuzhu, Veyil, Kadhal etc., and they received wide acclamation from brahmanical reviews. ‘Angadi theru’, is the latest in this panorama, shrewder in its psychological planning of Dalit evacuation, which tends to be imperceptible but can be extracted on a closer reading.
‘Angadi theru’ is more dangerous than established brahmanical films of directors like Maniratnam who made ‘Raavan’, and Shankar who created ‘Annyan’, ‘Indian’ and ‘Gentleman’. The film literally pats on the shoulders, hugs Dalits, and pretends to be highly sympathetic towards the tragic experiences of the Dalits. This is most deceitful and is aimed at belittling the agency of Dalits as resisting voices against the casteist Indian society. The anti caste political debates are presently cautious of such presentation of sympathy/failures/tragedies/fate on dalits.
Streaming from the brahmanical social psyche new trends in cinema showers sympathy on dalit identities, it masks itself as a middle/common/alternate/secular cinema and behaves as a positive change in the mainstream cultural industry. The Indian film aesthetics will not be free from such a grammar of filmmaking and it is extremely pathetic of them to market tears of Dalit lives in public spheres.
In nineteen eighties and nineties, there were a stream of so-called common man’s/middle class movie culture in Malayalam which were deep rooted in nairised or brahmanical aesthetic sense of Kerala. These films especially by directors like Sathyan Anthikad, Sreenivasan and Lohithadas were widely acclaimed as common man’s movies, but paved their way for more highly explosive casteist films and the result was a complete destruction of Malayalam films, they being entirely brahmanical in content when it reached the new millennium. In the present scenario, Angadi theru in Tamil movies is doing a similar job, preparing to breed more explosive casteist movies in future and is thus most dangerous, along with the many brahmanical formulations like Anyan and Dasavatharam.
Gunga Jumna (1961) was the second of three films that resulted in Ganga ki Saugandh.. Its heroine was identified as a ‘Gujariya.’ (The Gujjars have been accepted as a scheduled tribe in some states and the Badgujars as a scheduled caste at the national level. Gujjars in some other states are asking to be included in the scheduled tribe list.) The hero’s caste, we were told, was ‘higher’ than the heroine’s’ but (as in Mother India) he was shown in violent, armed conflict with the three ‘upper’ castes, with Kayasths being made fun of.
Gunga Jumna was a mega-budget Technicolor film and the most successful of Hindi-Urdu films: 1961.
Punarmilan (1964) : By now the subject of scheduled castes had also been taken up by art films. (Panghat was within the commercial gamut, though on the serious side.) The complete Punarmilan can be seen on YouTube. The film is about Dr. Mohan, who is seen as a Brahmin. Shobhna Bakshi and he decide to get married. During the marriage ceremony someone asks about Mohan's caste. Mohan says that he is an ‘untouchable.’ The marriage is called off.
Avijit Ghosh explains that the story centred around a doctor raised by an upper-caste family but actually a Harijan.’
Cha Cha Cha (1964) was a B film that did well for its budget because it was an entertainer that revolved about Western music and Western dance. The film’s leading character (played by its director Chandra Shekhar) was a scheduled caste who acquired fame through Western dancing. Cha Cha Cha can be seen in parts on YouTube.
Izzat (1968) was a big budget film and had two leading men, both played by Dharmendra. The two had the same Thakur (Rajput) father. The film’s real hero had a scheduled tribe mother and was bitterly anti-Thakur. He got to marry the film’s main, upper-caste heroine. The film’s other leading lady (played by the very young Dr. J. Jayalalithaa) was a tribal, whom the flippant, purely-Thakur hero married.
Izzat was the no.14 hit among Hindi-Urdu films: 1968, which meant that it was a moderate success, moreso considering that it was a serious film and not a mega-budget, globe-trotting spry thriller like that year’s no. 1 film, Aankhen.
Ankur (1974): ‘Laxmi, the low caste domestic help works [for] the local zamindar... The landlord’s son …asks Laxmi [Shabana Azmi] to prepare morning tea for him. Laxmi is aghast and … reminds him that that she is from a low caste to which he [replies] that he does not believe in caste and that she should prepare tea for him.’ (From Jyotsna Siddharth)
Ankur was one of many art films about injustices meted out to the scheduled castes.
Ganga ki Saugandh was a big-budget film because of its cast (Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Amjad Khan) and was a mega-hit, being the fourth biggest grosser of 1978, beaten only by three of Bachchan’s own all-time hits (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Trishul, Don).
The theme was the same as in Mother India and Gunga Jumna, i.e. violent conflict with the three ‘upper’ castes. However, now the hero was specifically shown as a scheduled caste. In the case of the heroine even her sub-caste (Chamar) was specified.
Hum Paanch (lit: ‘we five’) (1980) created excitement in pro-SC circles when word went around that this was another commercial film (after Ganga ki Saugandh) in which there was an SC hero, played by Mithun Chakraborty. However, his character’s caste is not clear. The ‘we five’ of the film’s title are five heroes who fight the oppression of the Thakur. A dialogue from the film informs us that united against the bad Thakur are “a slave [daas], two ‘untouchables’ [achhoot], a merchant [baniya] and a [good] Thakur.”
So, while Mithun’s character was a slave but probably not an SC, two of the film’s five heroes (both played by relatively minor actors) were definitely scheduled caste.
Hum Paanch was the no. 13 hit among Hindi-Urdu films: 1981. It was based on a story written by a Kannada Brahmin.
Souten (1983), a big-budget film set in the elite neighbourhoods and beaches of Mauritius, was, on the face of it, an unlikely candidate to have an SC leading character. And yet it had two major and positive SC characters (and one minor and self-destructive one).
The film had two heroines, Rukmani (Tina Munim), who was from a business family (and, likely, from a business caste, implied by the surname Prannath) but was a liability as a wife because she was ultra-modern. Radha (Padmini Kolhapure) was an SC and also the ideal Hindu woman and wife, being chaste, calm and patient.
(Sujata, too, had a similar idealisation of its SC heroine vis a vis her caste Hindu counterpart. ‘In the film, the character Sujata throughout draws a comparison between [her caste Hindu foster father’s] biological daughter Rama who is a college going ‘modern’ girl, who likes to read poetry and play sports. Sujata, on the other hand, manages the house and takes care of needs of her [foster] “parents”.’ Jyotsna Siddharth
The real heroine’s father was a scrupulously honest accountant whom the film’s hero, Shyam, trusted totally. Radha was the daughter of the incorruptible Gopal.
Souten was no. 6 among Hindi-Urdu films: 1983. It was directed by Saawan Kumar Tak and written by Vijay Kaul.
Paar (1984): Critic Tathagata Chatterji writes, 'Goutam Ghosh's award winning film shows the young Dalit couple, (played by Naseeruddin Shah and Shabhana Azmi), escaping to Cakcutta.' The film won multiple awards,invluding Best Actor for Shah,
Ghulami (1985) reverted to the Mother India, Gunga Jumna, Ganga ki Saugandh theme of setting the upper castes (especially the Rajputs) right and settling scores with them through violence. The film’s hero, Ranjeet Singh Chaudhary (Dharmendra), belonged to a ‘low caste,’ though his precise sub-caste was not mentioned.
This was a film made on an epic canvas, with lavish sets, exotic locations and a big star cast (three leading men and as many heroines). This stellar line-up was headed by the film’s ‘low caste’ hero. The Mithun character was serving in the Jat Regiment, and the implication was that he belonged to the elite, ruling Jat community. As early as in 1985, a full 25 years beore The Guardian article, this reversal of the hierarchy had already taken place in a film made by the Brahmin J P Dutta. The ‘low caste’ hero ranked above the Jat hero no.2
Did ‘low caste’ mean scheduled caste in the context of Ghulami? Absolutely. The film made it clear that Ranjeet belonged to a caste that had to be kept segregated.
Despite being a relentlessly tense and even a literary film (its most famous song began in highly literary Farsi [Persian]), Ghulami was the tenth biggest grosser among Hindi-Urdu films: 1985.
Tera Naam Mera Naam (1987/ pr., dir: RameshTalwar) was a breezy entertainer, like films from the commercial stream are. And yet it dealt with the serious subject of ‘reservations’ (affirmative action) with no upper caste bias. It had two heroes, the Brahmin Agnihotri and the scheduled caste Parmar. Agnihotri, the Brahmin boy, was shown arguing in favour of Caste-based reservations: India. Both were from middle class families and were unemployed.
Ravi Parmar, a handsome youth, belonged to a scheduled caste. He was happy go lucky vs. the serious Agnihotri. Parmar watched lots of TV and flirted around. However, there was no prejudice in this, because in the exams he did marginally better than the Brahmin Agnihotri.
Which of the two was the main hero? Well, both had equally big and equally good roles. However, it was the scheduled caste Parmar who got the main heroine, Ms. Sharma.
The actors of this middle-budget commercial film were totally unknown. Therefore, the film, too, remained unknown.
Prem Granth (1996) was a big-budget film from the RK banner that, till the release of this film, had been India’s no.1 commercial banner. Prem Granth got a lukewarm reception at the box office, being the no.17 grosser among Hindi-Urdu films: 1996.
In Prem Granth ‘a socially ostracized [Madhuri Dixit character] was not able to confront her love’
Chachi 420 (1997) was produced and directed by Kamal Haasan, a Tamil Brahmin, two of whose later films took a strong pro-Muslim stand. At his peak he was the no. 2 star of Tamil films. In this film, a comedy, he acted as the music composer Jaishankar Paswan, a scheduled caste, in love with the daughter of Durgaprasad Bharadwaj, a conservative Brahmin businessman.
Chachi 420 ranked no. 13 at the box office among Hindi-Urdu films: 1997, despite being a middle-budget film with a non-Hindi mainstream hero.
After all these films with leading SC characters, and strong characters at that, let us finally come to what The Guardian would have the world believe was the film with Bollywood's first-ever SC lead character, and with the release of which Bollywood had, at long last, started to deal with India's caste system.
Samar (1999/ dir. Shyam Benegal, writer Ashok Mishra) was among the many art films that dealt with caste and had SC leading characters, male as well as female. To the extent that this multi-character film could be said to have had a hero, it was a scheduled caste film actor, Kishore (played by a very young Ashish Vidyarthi). The film’s story, which was about caste oppression, revolved around Nathu (played by Raghuvir Yadav).
Chupke Se (2003) was a pleasant chick-lit romance by Shona Urvashi, and was not about caste. The heroine Megha Timgire’s name was not an obviously SC name. However, some Timgires are SC. Her father was a middle-rung income tax officer. There was a picture of Baba Saheb Dr. BR Ambedkar in the heroine’s house. But then he is a national hero, across castes and communities. However, the picture coupled with the heroine’s name suggested that Megha Timgire was supposed to be SC. (In ‘Guddu Rangeela,’ see below, Baba Saheb’s picture was used as a code to convey the heroes’ caste.)
Eklavya- The Royal Guard (2007) saw Sanjay Dutt play Pannalal Chohar, an ‘audacious’ Dalit police officer, who was not only proud of himself but also unapologetic about his origin . He ‘not only asserts his Dalit identity but also bristles against the castebased feudal oppression that still pervades parts of Rajasthan.’ (Avijit Ghosh)
This was a big-budget film about Rajasthani royalty, with lavish sets and a big starcast. It had five leading men and three leading ladies. The cast was headed by a character who was a servant but belonged to an indeterminate ‘touchable’ caste. The SC hero ranked no.2 in the internal hierarchy of the film’s plot, ranking above three princes in terms of the length and importance (‘pivotality’) of his role.
However, it earned the 19th (or 24th highest profits) among Hindi-Urdu films: 2007. The film’s non-success had nothing to do with its SC hero no. 2, because, as pointed out, the focus was not on the SC hero but on the concept of, um, artificial insemination, which the audiences could not digest.
Rakta Charitra 1 (2010) was the biopic of Paritala Ravindra, and Maddela Cheruvu Suri. It was successful at the Telugu box office but only no. 29 among more than 160Hindi-Urdu films: 2010
Rakta Charitra 2 (2010) did even worse at the Hindi-Urdu box office.
However, between them the two parts gathered a number of awards and nominations.
Aarakashan (2011): Though made by a filmmaker from the art stream, this film had a major commercial actor playing a bright young SC college lecturer who taught applied mathematics and then went to Cornell University for his Ph.D. A caste-Hindu girl had a crush on him. While he wooed her with poetry, she in turn asked him to come straight to the point, stop being senti[mental] and ‘show some action.’
Avijit Ghosh writes: ‘In mainstream Bollywood history, it would be hard to find a more assertive, erudite and historically-aware Dalit than the protagonist in Prakash Jha's Aarakshan… The portayal is indeed radical…Deepak is everything a traditional Bollywood hero is; only a little more. He is educated, articulate, aspirational yet an idealist - he is a Dalit of the New Millennium. He represents a new template of Dalit protagonists, a distinct departure from the traditional representation in Hindi films.’
Aarakashan (‘affirmative action’) was sought to be banned, sight unseen, by pro- affirmative action groups, which assumed that because the film had been made by a Brahmin, Prakash Jha, it would oppose affirmative action. The film was banned, again sight unseen, in some states for that reason. By the time the film’s strong pro-SC and pro- affirmative action stand was realised and the bans were lifted pirated DVDs of the film had done the damage.
Aarakashan was no. 28 at the box office among Hindi-Urdu films: 2011.
Court (2015: Marathi, English, Hindi) is about an Ambedkarite SC activist: he sings songs about social reform (against the backdrop of Babasaheb's portrait) and helps publish books on the same theme. He is framed in an extremely flimsy case. This arthouse film was declared the Best Film of the Year by the Government of India.
Guddu Rangeela (2015) has not one but two, eponymous SC heroes. And yet the words Dalit, Harijan, scheduled caste or ‘low’ caste are not used anywhere in the film. Codes are used instead. i) We see the picture of Baba Saheb Dr. BR Ambedkar in the heroes’ house, and i-a) the pictures of Kum. Mayawati and Mr. Kanshi Ram in that of their relative. ii) The heroes are from a community of singers, hence we could safely assume that they belong to the mirasi caste. iii) Rangeela told us that his marriage to Babli Hooda was an inter-caste marriage. Thus at least he was not Jat. iv) The casteist villain Billu Pehelwan (caste not specified, but he was the upholder of the caste system) said that ‘we don’t drink water in the houses of these people.’ This left the audience in no doubt about their being SCs.
Guddu Rangeela is a middle-budget, ‘multiplex film.’
Earlier Ghulami had mentioned that the hero was from a low caste without using an SC-specific expression. However, other clues, like children from the hero’s community being segregated, made the caste clear. Only Mother India and Gunga Jumna offered no clues other than a conflict with the three upper castes. Because of this ambiguity, Indpaedia has not boldfaced the titles of these two films.
Manjhi: the mountain man (2015) is about the heroic struggle of a man determined to cut a path through a tall hill, to connect his village with the world beyond the hill. The Manjhis are an Ati Dalit clan (i.e. even more backward and deprived than other SCs.) The caste element is mentioned in the beginning, after which the film concentrates on the selfless character of this untiring and principled man.
INDIAN FILMS THAT HAVE EXPLORED CASTE WITH SENSITIVITY AND INSIGHT
Marathi film 'Fandry' is a love story set against the shadow of caste discrimination.
The Marathi film 'Fandry' (Pig) was released in theaters across Maharashtra on Friday, on the back of its Grand Jury Prize at the recently-concluded Mumbai International Film Festival. 'Fandry' depicts a love affair under the shadow of discrimination based on caste.
Not all films that tackle caste issues have had the dream run that Fandry has enjoyed.
Here are a few movies about caste that have courted controversy with their subject matter but won acclaim for the insightful way in which they handled the subject.
Jait re Jait (' Win, win', Marathi, 1977)
This Jabbar Patel film starred Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe in a story that was set in the Thakar community, a scheduled tribe in Maharashtra. Mohan Agashe plays a drummer who meets a headstrong woman from his community, who has left her husband because she thinks he is useless. The film is about their struggle to remain together despite the tribulations faced by the community.
Sujata (Hindi, 1959)
Bimal Roy directed this film about the love between a Brahmin youth and an untouchable. It was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 60th Cannes Film Festival. In this melodrama, the heroine, Sujata, is an untouchable who is raised by a Brahmin family. The Brahmin youth's father is fond of her, but his wife and mother never accept her fully, until a critical moment when Sujata saves the wife's life.
Ankur ('Seedling', Hindi, 1974)
This was Shyam Benegal's first feature film, featuring the debuts of Shabana Azmi and Anant Nag. The story revolves around the love affair between the son of the village landlord (Nag), and the wife of a deaf-mute Dalit potter (Azmi). A highly layered film, Ankur's protagonist affects a pro-Dalit stance to get closer to Shabana Azmi's character, his maidservant. Their relationship sparks rumours that are all-too-true, leading to a climax that exposes upper-caste hypocrisy.
Ore Oru Gramathile ('In a little village', Tamil, 1987)
This film, by director K Jyothi Pandian, is easily the most controversial in the list. It is about a penniless upper-caste woman who pretends to be from a scheduled caste to get an education. She goes on to become an excellent civil servant, but is eventually exposed, leading to a courtroom scene in which she defends her case and appeals for reservations based on economic backwardness rather than caste.
Dalit groups, such as BR Ambedkar's People's Movement and the Republican Party of India launched protests, threatening to damage cinemas in which the film was screened. The Tamil Nadu stopped the film's release, and eventually, it took a Supreme Court directive to ensure the film's release. It later won a national award -- The Silver Lotus (for best film on social issues).
by ATUL KUMAR
पिछले हफ्ते समय निकाल ‘फंड्री’ देखने गया था. चेम्बूर के एक सिंगल स्क्रीन थिएटर ‘अमर’ में “लास्ट डे - लास्ट शो” देखा. यहाँ चालीस रूपए में बालकनी का टिकट मिल जाता है. फंड्री की स्क्रीनिंग के दौरान थिएटर में जो जोश भरा माहौल था वह बस अनुभव ही किया जा सकता है. मेरा एक दोस्त चेम्बूर के एक मल्टीप्लेक्स में इस फिल्म को देखने गया था. वहाँ की टिकट डेढ़ सौ रूपए से कम की नहीं आती. साथ ही वहाँ का दर्शक वर्ग भी मुख्यतः अमीर-सवर्णों का ही था जो फिल्म के गंभीर दृश्यों के दौरान भी अपनी जाति की समझ के अनुसार ठहाके लगा कर हँसना नहीं भूलता था.
फंड्री देखने पर ऐसा लगता है जैसे कि सिनेमा के पर्दे पर दलित साहित्य सजीव हो गया हो. ‘फंड्री’ महाराष्ट्र के एक दलित समुदाय ‘कैकाडी’ द्वारा बोले जाने वाली बोली का शब्द है जिसका अर्थ सूअर होता है. फ़िल्म में सूअर को छुआछूत के प्रतीक के रूप में इस्तेमाल किया गया है जहाँ सवर्णों ने यह तय कर दिया है कि किस तरह के जानवर और आदमी ‘शुद्ध’ या ‘अशुद्ध’ हैं. फ़िल्म के निर्देशक नागराज मंजुले फंड्री को अपने जीवन की कहानी बताते है. फंड्री में ओमप्रकाश वाल्मीकि का “झूठन” भी दिखता है. फंड्री उन सभी दलितों की कहानी है जिन्हें जाति की वजह से सवर्णों के अत्याचार सहने पड़े हैं. फंड्री इस कहानी को कहने में कहीं भी जरुरत से ज्यादा मेलोड्रामटिक नहीं होता और ना ही फ़िल्म में दलितों पर होने वाले अत्याचारों के सनसनीखेज वीभत्स दृश्यों को दिखाने की जरुरत पड़ी है.
फ़िल्म एक दलित लड़के जामवंत उर्फ़ जब्या (सोमनाथ अवघडे) की कहानी है जो किशोरवय का है और अपनी कक्षा में पढ़ने वाली एक उच्च जाति की लड़की शालू (राजेश्वरी खरात) से प्यार कर बैठा है. जब्या एक काली चिड़िया की तलाश में है जो दुर्लभ है और जिसके पीछे मान्यता है कि चिड़िया को जलाकर उसके राख को किसी पर भी छिड़क देने से उसे मोहित किया जा सकता है. फ़िल्म 14 फरवरी को महाराष्ट्र में रिलीज़ हुई थी.
इस फ़िल्म को बस एक प्रेम-कहानी मान लेने की भूल नहीं करनी चाहिए. यह फ़िल्म एक दलित के प्यार के सामाजिक यथार्थ को दिखाती है. फ़िल्म गहरे सामाजिक-राजनीतिक अर्थ रखती है. फ़िल्म में ऐसे बहुत से दृश्य हैं जो बहुत ही प्रभावशाली हैं. वह चाहे पृष्ठभूमि में दिख रही स्कूल की दीवारों पर बनी अम्बेडकर और सावित्रीबाई फुले की तस्वीरें हो या कक्षा में अंतिम पंक्ति में बैठने को मज़बूर दलित बच्चे. अपने घर की दीवार पर ‘शुभ विवाह’ लिख रहा जब्या का परिवार हो या फिर स्कूल में डफली बजा रहा जब्या या फिर वह दृश्य जहाँ जब्या का परिवार सूअर उठाकर ले जाता रहता है और पृष्ठभूमि में दीवार पर दलित आन्दोलनों से जुड़े सभी अगुआ नेताओं की तस्वीरें होती हैं. ये मोंटाज उस यथार्थ को दर्शाता है कि इतनी लड़ाई और इतने साल गुजर जाने के बाद भी दलितों की स्तिथि में कोई ख़ास बदलाव नहीं आया है.
इस फिल्म का एक दृश्य मेरे लिए ख़ास अहमियत रखता है जिसे मैं कभी भूल नहीं सकता. जब्या स्कूल जाने की जगह गाँव के सवर्णों के आदेश पर अपने परिवार के साथ सूअर पकड़ रहा होता है. तभी अचानक स्कूल में राष्ट्र-गान बजना शुरू हो जाता है. राष्ट्र-गान सुनकर पहले जब्या स्थिर खड़ा हो जाता है और फिर उसका पूरा परिवार. फ़िल्मकार ने यह दृश्य बहुत ही प्रभावशाली बनाया है जो हमारे भारतीय सिनेमा के सबसे महत्वपूर्ण दृश्यों में से एक है. इस दृश्य के गहरे राजनीतिक अर्थ हैं कि कैसे हमारा शासक वर्ग राष्ट्रीय प्रतीकों और एक कल्पित राष्ट्र के सिद्धांत के बल पर देश के वंचित तबकों को बेवकूफ बनाकर रखे रहता है. फ़िल्म का क्लाइमेक्स शायद इस जंजीर को तोड़ता है. फंड्री का क्लाइमेक्स बहुत ही गैर-परंपरागत क्लाइमेक्स है जिसका लोग अपने हिसाब से अलग-अलग संभावनाएँ सोच सकते हैं.
फ़िल्म में नागराज मंजुले का भी एक किरदार है जिसका नाम चाणक्य है. फ़िल्म में उसे एक साइकिल की दुकान चलाते हुए देखा जा सकता है जो जब्या के प्रति सहानुभूति रखता है. चाणक्य को लोग बदमाश समझते है और जब्या का बाप भी उसे चाणक्य से दूर रहने को कहता है. फ़िल्म में एक जगह गाँव के एक मेले में जब्या नाचने की कोशिश करता है ताकि वह शालू पर अपना प्रभाव जमा सके. इस दौरान जब सवर्ण उससे धक्कामुक्की कर उसे बाहर कर रहे होते है तब चाणक्य बेधड़क नाचते हुए भीड़ में घुसकर जब्या को बचाता है. फ़िल्म में यह घटना लोगों को भले ही छोटी लगे लेकिन देश में मेलों-त्योहारों के समय दलितों का पिटना आम बात होती है.
फंड्री सच्चे अर्थों में एक नव-यथार्थवादी फिल्म है जहाँ एक दलित फ़िल्मकार बिना भव्य-नकली सेटों की मदद के असली लोकेशन पर फ़िल्म शूट करता है. फ़िल्म में जब्या के बाप का किरदार कर रहे किशोर कदम को छोड़कर लगभग सभी किरदार नए हैं. सोमनाथ कोई मंझा हुआ अभिनेता नहीं है बल्कि महाराष्ट्र के एक गाँव का दलित लड़का है जो अभी कक्षा 9 में पढ़ा रहा है वहीं उसके दोस्त पिरया का किरदार कर रहा सूरज पवार सातवीं कक्षा का छात्र है. फिल्म अंग्रेजी सबटाइटल्स के साथ रिलीज़ हुई है. फिल्म मराठी में है लेकिन कई जगह दलित कैकाडी समुदाय की मराठी बोली का भी प्रयोग किया है. अभी तक मराठी फिल्म निर्माण में सवर्णों का ही दबदबा रहा है. कुछ लोग व्यंग्य से कह रहे हैं कि फंड्री और इसकी भाषा ने मराठी फिल्मों की ‘शुद्धता’ को ‘अपवित्र’ कर दिया है.
फ़िल्म में सोमनाथ सहित दूसरे सभी किरदारों का अभिनय बहुत ही स्वभाविक रहा है. फ़िल्म में जब्या और उसका दोस्त पिरया अभिनय करते नहीं बल्कि अपनी रोजमर्रा की जिंदगी जीते दिखते हैं. फिल्म में सोमनाथ ने डफली बजायी है और उसे वाकई डफली बजाना आता भी है. दरअसल फिल्मकार की मुलाक़ात सोमनाथ से भी तब ही हुई थी जब वह अपने गाँव के एक कार्यक्रम में डफली बजा रहा था. फंड्री में कैमरा और साउंड का काम भी बेहतरीन रहा है. फ़िल्म देखते वक्त लगेगा कि आप वास्तव में जब्या के गाँव पहुँच गए है. नागराज मंजुले ने इससे पहले एक शार्ट फ़िल्म ‘पिस्तुलिया’ बनायी थी जिसे कई पुरस्कार मिले थे. फंड्री ने कमर्शियल सिनेमा के दायरे में रहकर भी बेहतरीन काम किया है. नागराज मंजुले का कहना कि जब तक अलग-अलग समुदाय, खासकर वंचित समुदाय के लोगों को फ़िल्म इंडस्ट्री में जगह नहीं मिलेगी तब तक हमारा सिनेमा हमारे समाज का सही मायने में प्रतिनिधित्व नहीं कर पाएगा. पिछले कुछ सालों में आए हिंदी के कथित प्रयोगधर्मी फिल्में फंड्री के आगे पानी भरते दिखती हैं.
पिछले दिनों एक पत्रकार ने इस फिल्म पर प्रतिक्रिया देते हुए कहा कि हिंदी सिनेमा के जो कथित प्रयोगधर्मी फिल्मकार हैं उनकी फ़िल्में कभी इस ओर नहीं जा पाती हैं और वे फ़िल्मकार सामंती भावना को तृप्त करने में ही लगे रहते हैं. वाकई अगर देखा जाए तो इन कथित प्रयोगधर्मी फिल्मकारों की फिल्मों से दलित-आदिवासी गायब होते हैं और अगर कहीं होते भी हैं तो उनका चित्रण मनमाने ढंग से किया जाता है. इनकी फ़िल्में जातिवादी दंभ और सामंतवाद का जश्न मनाती है. गैंग-वार और अपराध कथाएं ही इनकी सीमा है और वहां भी वे हॉलीवुड से चुराए गए फ़ॉर्मूले ही इस्तेमाल करते हैं.
अभी देश के एक दूसरे हिस्से से आने वाले दलित दशरथ माँझी पर ‘माउंटेनमैन’ के नाम से एक फ़िल्म बनायी जा रही है. जाहिर है कि फ़िल्मकार एक सवर्ण है. फ़िल्म की पटकथा को सुधार रहे एक पटकथा लेखक से कुछ समय पहले बात हुई थी. उनसे बात कर पता चला कि फ़िल्मकार के तरफ़ से दशरथ माँझी के चरित्र को जानबूझकर आक्रमक दिखाए जाने और कहानी को मसालेदार बनाने की कोशिश की जा रही है. ‘बैंडिट क्वीन’ का शेखर कपूर ने क्या हश्र किया था वह सबको पता है. ‘बैंडिट क्वीन’ में बलात्कार के दृश्यों का इस्तेमाल फ़िल्म को सनसनीखेज बनाने के लिए किया गया था. फ़िल्म बनाने के बाद निर्देशक ने फुलन देवी को फ़िल्म दिखा उनकी रजामंदी लेने की जरुरत भी नहीं समझी. यही हाल भंवरी देवी पर बनी ‘बवंडर’ का भी हुआ था. ये सवर्ण फ़िल्मकार, दक्षिण भारत के एक डाक्यूमेंट्री फ़िल्मकार के हालिया फिल्म के शीर्षक को अपने लिए सन्देश समझ सकते हैं - “डोंट बी आवर फादर्स”!
फंड्री अब देश के कुछ मुख्य शहरों में प्रदर्शित होने वाली है. पीवीआर इसे 28 फरवरी को देश के सात शहरों दिल्ली, कोलकाता, चेन्नई, बंगलौर, इंदौर, अहमदाबाद और बड़ौदा में रिलीज़ कर चुका है. फंड्री दलित सिनेमा का उत्सव है! फंड्री सच्चे अर्थों में लोगों का सिनेमा है जिसकी हमारे समय में बहुत जरूरत है...
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Kabali Rajinikanth in Kabali (2016)
'कबाली' : दलित दखल के दम से बदलता परदा
फिल्म में 'कबाली' का डायलॉग है- "हमारे पूर्वज सदियों से गुलामी करते आए हैं, लेकिन मैं हुकूमत करने के लिए पैदा हुआ हूं। आंखों में आंखें डाल कर बात करना, सूट-बूट पहनना, टांग के ऊपर टांग रख कर बैठना तुमको खटकता है, तो मैं ये सब जरूर करूंगा। मेरा आगे बढ़ना ही मसला है, तो मैं आगे बढूंगा।" हो सकता है कि फिल्मकार ने 'हमारे पूर्वज' या 'सदियों से गुलामी करते आए' जैसे सामाजिक संदर्भों को परदे पर सशक्त तरीके से रखने के बावजूद किन्हीं व्यावसायिक वजहों से 'कबाली' की जाति का साफ उल्लेख नहीं किया या यह भी हो सकता है कि सिर्फ इतना भर कर देने से फिल्म सिनेमाघरों में आने से रह जाती।
हाल ही में आकर चली गई फिल्म 'कबाली' ने कथित मुख्यधारा के फिल्म समीक्षकों को क्यों डराया, इस सवाल के जवाब के लिए आपको यह खोजना होगा कि वे फिल्म समीक्षक कौन हैं! जब सत्ताएं अपनी ओर से अपने और साधारण लोगों के बीच एक विभाजन-रेखा खींच देती हैं, तब ऐसे सवाल मजबूरी बन कर उभरते हैं!
क्या 'कबाली' को अभिनय या इसमें पेश कला के दूसरे पहलुओं के लिए इसके समीक्षकों ने खारिज किया? पता नहीं कि कला की अंतिम परिभाषा क्या है, अगर है तो उसने किसने तय किया और क्या वही उसकी आखिरी सीमा है...! लेकिन 'कबाली' को लगभग 'खराब' फिल्म की रेटिंग देकर फिल्म समीक्षकों ने अपनी तमाम कोशिशें झोंक दीं कि जो लोग समीक्षा पढ़ कर फिल्म देखने जाते हैं, वे नहीं जाएं। बहरहाल, 'कबाली' चली, और खूब चली! तो सवाल है फिल्म समीक्षा के महंथों के मना करने के बावजूद 'कबाली' को किन लोगों ने देखा? मेरा खयाल है कि जिन असली वजहों से इऩ महंथों ने लोगों को रोकने की कोशिश की थी, उन्हीं वजहों से इस फिल्म ने धूम मचाई।
अगर एक लाइन में वह वजह बताई जाए तो फिल्म में 'कबाली' का डायलॉग है- "हमारे पूर्वज सदियों से गुलामी करते आए हैं, लेकिन मैं हुकूमत करने के लिए पैदा हुआ हूं। आंखों में आंखें डाल कर बात करना, सूट-बूट पहनना, टांग के ऊपर टांग रख कर बैठना तुमको खटकता है, तो मैं ये सब जरूर करूंगा। मेरा आगे बढ़ना ही मसला है, तो मैं आगे बढूंगा।" हो सकता है कि फिल्मकार ने 'हमारे पूर्वज' या 'सदियों से गुलामी करते आए' जैसे सामाजिक संदर्भों को परदे पर सशक्त तरीके से रखने के बावजूद किन्हीं व्यावसायिक वजहों से 'कबाली' की जाति का साफ उल्लेख नहीं किया या यह भी हो सकता है कि सिर्फ इतना भर कर देने से फिल्म सिनेमाघरों में आने से रह जाती। लेकिन अपनी सीमा में ही सही, जिस तरह बार-बार 'कबाली' 'अपने सताए गए पूर्वजों' और उनकी 'सदियों की गुलामी' का हवाला देकर अपनी ताकत और साम्राज्य के जरिए अपने दुश्मनों की छाती पर पांव रखता है, वह किसी औसत दर्शक के दिमाग में भी यह साफ कर देता है कि यहां 'पूर्वजों' और उनकी 'सदियों की गुलामी' का मतलब बेहद कमजोर जातियां या दलित तबके ही है।
दरअसल, सिनेमा की शुरुआती दृश्य में ही जेल में बंद कबाली एक दलित लेखक वाईबी सत्यनारायण की किताब 'माई फादर बलैया' की किताब पढ़ रहा होता है, तभी यह संकेत मिल जाता है कि फिल्मकार का मकसद क्या है। लेकिन कई बार दुनियावी और व्यावसायिक मजबूरियां हाथ बांध दे सकती हैं। इसलिए पूरी फिल्म में कबाली ने समाज के दलित-दमित तबके को 'सदियों तक गुलामी झेलने वाले अपने पूर्वज' के तौर पर ही पेश किया है। लेकिन अपने उन 'पूर्वजों' के दुख से कबाली कमजोर नहीं होता, बल्कि हर वक्त उनके उन दुखों को याद कर और आज भी अपने दुश्मनों के उन तानों को सुन कर आक्रोशित होता है और उनके दांत खट्टे कर देता है।
कबाली एक गिरोह का मुखिया है। और इससे अलग 'सदियों की गुलामी झेलने वाले पूर्वजों' की अब की नई पीढ़ियों को बेहतर इंसान बनाने के लिए अपने तमाम संसाधन झोंक देता है। यह कबाली साफ लफ्जों में अपने संस्थान के उन बच्चों से बात करते हुए बताता है कि कैसे उसने तयशुदा तरीके से एक ऊंची कही जाने वाली लड़की से प्रेम किया, उससे शादी की और उसमें लड़की के ऊंची कही जाने वाली जाति की वजह से कितनी मुश्किलें पेश आईं। कबाली से कोई पूछता है कि मौसम में गरमी होने के बावजूद वह सूट-बूट और कोट क्यों पहनता है तो वह गांधी के बरक्स बाबा साहेब के हमेशा अच्छे कपड़े पहन कर रहने के संदेश की अहमियत बताता है।
यानी कायदे से इसे दलित-विमर्श की फिल्म कह सकते हैं, जो न रजनीकांत के आकर्षण के साथ न सिर्फ मनोरंजन का खयाल रखती है, बल्कि समाज में चल रहे उथल-पुथल और दलित-वंचित तबकों के भीतर दबाई गई आकांक्षाओं को पूरा करने का हौसला भी देती है। कल्पना की जा सकती है कि प्रत्यक्ष या परोक्ष हिंसा के जरिए जाति से निम्न कहे जाने वाले लोगों की आवाजों और इच्छाओं की जिस तरह हर पल हत्या की गई है, उसमें परदे पर कबाली को अपने प्रतिद्वंद्वी पर धौंस जमाते, उन्हें पीटते और आखिर में मार डालते देखते हुए एक कमजोर, सदियों से दमन का शिकार आर्थिक या जातिगत पृष्ठभूमि का सिनेमा दर्शक अपने मानस के स्तर पर क्या हासिल करता होगा। उसके भीतर उन बातों के लिए कितनी हताशाएं भरी होंगी, जब उसे हर वक्त का अपमान झेलना पड़ा रहा होगा... और चुप रह जाना पड़ा होगा।
ऐसे में कबाली जब परदे पर 'मेरे पूर्वजों को तुमने सताया था' की घोषणा के साथ कबाली अपने सामने की सारी सत्ताओं को चुनौती देता है, तो उस औसत दर्शक की उन दमित भावनाओं को तुष्ट करता है। उस दर्शक को अब परदे पर परोसी कहानियों में अगर कोई पात्र सबसे करीब लगता रहा था तो वह था सिनेमा के विलेन के गुर्गे..! कभी उसे यह महसूस करने का मौका नहीं मिला था कि परदे पर जो हीरो अपने सामंती दुश्मनों का गर्दा उड़ा रहा है, वह उसका अपना बंदा है, यानी परदे पर हीरो के रूप में या उसके आसपास का कोई है, जो 'अपने बंदों' जैसा है। कबाली भारत की आम दलित-वंचित आबादी का वही हीरो है, उसका दोस्त है।
आखिरी के एक सीन में 'दुश्मन' गिरोह की ओर से चारों और से भयानक गोलीबारी हो रही है, 'कबाली' अपने दोनों हाथों में भारी पिस्तौल लेकर दोनों तरफ बारी-बारी से गोलियां चलाते हुए बीच से आगे बढ़ रहा है। यह सीन एकबारगी आपको 'जैंगो अनचेन्ड' फिल्म के उस सीन से रूबरू कराती है, जिसमें जैंगो ठीक इसी तरह गोरों की ओर से भयानक गोलीबारी के बीच दोनों हाथों में भारी पिस्तौल लेकर दोनों तरफ गोलियां चलाते हुए आगे बढ़ रहा है।
दोनों ही फिल्मों में यह सीन सिर्फ हिंसा का एक बिंब नहीं है... यह हजारों सालों के दमन के खिलाफ आक्रोश का एक रूपक है। चारों तरफ से किए जाने वाले जुल्मों का प्रतिरोध है कि गोलियां तो तुम पहले भी चलाते रहे हो... इसके बीच भी हम थे... और हम अब भी हैं...! और अब हमारा भी जवाब मिलेगा तुम्हें...!
तो परदे पर कबाली सिर्फ एक दलित लेखक वाईबी सत्यनारायण की किताब 'माई फादर बलैया' दिखता है, तो वही अपने पैसों से 'अपने लोगों' के लिए अलग-अलग तरह के प्रशिक्षण का इंतजाम करता है, सभ्य समाज बनाने के लिए इंसान तैयार करता है। यानी ब्राह्मणवाद के जटिल तंत्र में अलग-अलग चेहरे में परदे पर उतरा हीरो आखिरकार व्यवस्थावाद का हरकारा ही साबित होता है। लेकिन कबाली इस छवि को तोड़ता है। शायद इसलिए कि वह खुद सामाजिक दमन और शोषण के चक्र से गुजर चुका है और अब एक खास हैसियत में होने के नाते वह कोई दिखावे का नारा देने के बजाय नई पीढ़ी को तैयार करने में लग जाता है। यही इस फिल्म की कामयाबी है।
जमीन से ब्राह्मणवाद के खिलाफ दलित एसर्शन का दबाव इतना बढ़ रहा है कि अब निर्माता-निर्देशकों को न केवल दलित-वंचित पृष्ठभूमि से होने के नाते, बल्कि दूसरे निर्माता-निर्देशकों को भी अपने टिके रहने के लिए 'गुड्डू रंगीला' या 'कबाली' जैसी फिल्में बनानी होंगी।
अरविन्द शेष ,बिहार के सीतामढ़ी से हैं और दिल्ली में जनसत्ता (दैनिक हिंदी अखबार ) में सहायक सम्पादक हैं
Achhut Kannya (1936).
By सुरेश जोगेश
पहली बार पर्दे पर ब्राह्मणवादी व्यवस्था के चिथड़े उड़ाता दमदार बहुजन किरदार “काला” रियल लाइफ में भी अब उनकी नींदे उड़ाने लगा है.यूँ तो मैं कभी-कभी ही जा पाता हूं मूवी देखने, लेकिन इस बार अकेले ही मन बना लिया था. फिर वरिष्ठ साथी भंवर मेघवंशी के साथ आने से इस मूवी की सार्थकता और बढ़ गयी.पिछले कुछ दिनों में शानदार रिव्यूज के साथ-साथ कई लोगो को हुई समस्या को पढ़ा तो याद आया कि हमने भी इसके लिए ऑनलाइन बुक करने की कोशिश की थी लेकिन हॉउसफुल बताया गया. बाद में जब काउंटर पर जाकर टिकट लेकर अंदर गए तो एक तिहाई सीटें खाली नजर आयी.
खैर, इसे रोकने की कोशिश करने वाले यहीं नही रुके, लगभग सभी हिंदी भाषी बड़े शहरों में पर्दे से उतार दिया गया है इसे.
इसके पीछे किसी साजिश का मेरा शक तब यकीन में बदला जब मैंने इसकी रिलीज तारीख और बॉक्स आफिस पर कलेक्शन की तुलना समानांतर चल रही अन्य फिल्मों से की.
आंकड़ों पर नजर डालेंगे तो पाएंगे कि यह फ़िल्म 7 जून को रिलीज हुई थी और महज सप्ताह भर में तकरीबन 140 करोड़ के बड़े आंकड़े को छूने के बावजूद इसे उतार दिया गया.
वहीं इससे पहले 1 जून को रिलीज हुई “वीरे दी वेडिंग” 78 करोड़ की कमाई करने पर्दे पर जमी हुई है. इससे भी पहले 25 मई को रिलीज हुई “परमाणु” महज 59 करोड़ की कमाई के बाद भी पर्दे पर है.
यही नही “102 नॉट आउट” और “राज़ी” जैसी फिल्में 1 महीने से ज्यादा समय के बाद भी क्रमशः सिर्फ 80 करोड़ और 120 करोड़ की कमाई के बाद टिकी हुई हैं.
इस व्यवस्था से सवाल करता और व्यवस्था से भिड़ता “काला” उन्हें पसंद नही है, उन्हें “जय भीम” का नारा पसंद नही है, उन्हें थार जीप पर सवार मूंछों को ताव लगाया हुआ बहुजन पसंद नही है.
सदियों से फर्जी कहानियों और फर्जी नायकों को थोंपने का काम इसलिए चल पा रहा है क्योंकि उसी फर्जी नायक का सिनेमा जगत पर कब्जा है.
जो “काला” को अपना नायक देखना चाहते हैं उनके पास पास अपना सिनेमाघर भी नही है.
जब से भारतीय सिनेमा जगत की स्थापना हुई है तब से अभी तक हीरो सदा “सवर्ण पुरुष” ही रहा है. कभी ओबेराय, कभी सिंघानिया, कभी मुखर्जी, कभी बेनर्जी तो कभी कपूर. इसके अलावा कभी किसी को नायक के रूप में दिखाया गया है तो टैक्सी वाले को, मजदूर को, किसान को लेकिन “सरनेम” छुपाकर.
The Dalit in Indian cinema
Shoma Chatterji talks about caste and the portrayal of Dalit in Hindi cinema beginning with Bombay Talkies Achhut Kannya (1936) to Bimal Roy’s Sujata (1959) followed by many mainstream films, and the small-budget, low-key ones which have focused on this significant social issue in the past so many years.
06 February 2016 -
Rohit Vemula’s suicide reveals, nearly 70 years after India declared itself to be “a sovereign, democratic republic”, the ugly underbelly of what the leaders take pride in by labelling it “India Shining”.
Though Vemula has categorically stated in his suicide note that he did not hold anyone responsible for his death, the echoes of reality are deafening on the one hand and shameful to confront on the other.
In June last year, two brothers from Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Brijesh (19) and Raju Saroj (19) cracked the IIT Entrance exams. The boys were ranked among the top 500 and when they came home from the felicitation function by the Chief Minister, they found that their house was pelted with stones. Their only fault is that they were Dalits. The Saroj brothers are sons of a Pratapgarh-based Dalit daily wage labourer. The same month, in a shocking incident, a minor Dalit girl was allegedly beaten up by higher caste women in Ganeshpura village in Chattarpur, MP, after the victim's shadow fell on a muscleman belonging to their family, police said.
Last May, hundreds of Dalits from Nagaur district's Dangawas in Ajmer near Jaipur and surrounding villages fled for their lives after the region's dominant upper caste, the Jats, mowed down three Dalits under tractors, and grievously wounded a dozen others following the flaring up of a decades' old land dispute. The Jat violence followed firing by Dalits in which one dominant caste member was killed.
Profiling Dalits in Hindi Cinema
In this ambiance of hate politics traced back to caste ism and its ancient dictates, Indian cinema dealing with the Dalits and their marginalization should not come as a surprise. The question however, arises on whether the films are created to cater to the box office value of the film, or whether it aims to reflect a true reflection of marginalization, oppression and torture.
Indian cinema is majorly dependent on its positive reception by the mass audience. Thus, it is natural for social scientists, film scholars and critics to question the intentions of Indian filmmakers. A glimpse into the history of Dalits in Hindi cinema will throw up some significant answers
The first Hindi film based on the delicate theme of untouchability that comes to mind is Achhut Kannya (1936). Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar portrayed the two leads in the film. The storyline goes as follows: Caste prejudice and class barriers prevent marriage between Kasturi, a Harijan (Dalit) girl, and Pratap, a Brahmin youth – both childhood friends and in love. Soon, Kasturi is forced into a loveless alliance with one of her own caste. A chance encounter at the village fair brings the two lovers together. Kasturi’s husband, inflamed by jealousy and suspicion, attacks Pratap at the railway level crossing, where he is gatekeeper. While the two men are engaged in a fierce fight unmindful of a fast approaching train, Kasturi, in an attempt to save them, is run over and dies.
Before this, only two other films had touched upon the caste problem is any significant way – Nitin Bose’s Chandidas (1934) and V. Shantaram’s Dharmatma (1935).
1934 ‧ Drama ‧ 2h 8m
Chandidas is a poet who falls in love with Rami, a low caste woman. Bijoynarayan, an uppercaste merchant tries to woo Rami but when she doesn't respond to his advances he makes sure her lover suffers.
Initial release: 1934
Screenplay: Agha Hashar Kashmiri
Music director: Raichand Boral1 Tadpat Beete Din Rain
2 Prem Nagar Mein Banaooingi Ghar Main
3 Prem Ki Ho Jai Jai
Pahadi Sanyal, Saigal
This saint film is about Sant Eknath (1533-99), a major Marathi poet, author of the Eknathi Bhagvata and numerous abhangas evoking folk poetry, especially the bharuda form of solo ... See full summary »
Director: Shantaram Rajaram Vankudre
Writers: K. Narayan Kale (screenplay), K. Narayan Kale (story) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Bal Gandharva, Ratnaprabha, K. Narayan Kale |
Dutt in Sujatha (1959)
Nutan and Sunil Dutt in Sujatha (1959).
Till this day, Sujata (1959) enjoys the status of a classic both at national and international retrospectives of Bimal Roy’s films and of Indian films. Its mechanisms of pleasure, blend of realism and idealism, and the humanitarian vision that it embodies denote a powerful, albeit fading currently in the symbolic universe of the 1950s. In and through Sujata, many of the oppositions that sustain between poverty and wealth, renunciation and worldliness, dharma and adharma, desire and law, the Brahmin and the Dalit – are worked out in terms of the family-as-nation/nation-as-family ideal.
Sujata is born into a Dalit family whose parents die in a cholera epidemic. She is brought up by a Brahmin overseer and his wife but she learns much later that she is adopted and belongs to the Dalit community. When she realises that something is wrong for her mother to repeatedly introduce her with, ‘she is like my daughter’, she creates a shell of self-imposed silence as expression of her feelings of betrayal by her foster-mother and also as her voice of rebellion.
Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1974) and Nishant (1975) dealt with the oppression by the high castes. The trauma of a Dalit woman is reflected by the character of Lakshmi, portrayed effectively by Shabana Azmi in Ankur. The film provides a deeper insight into the ugliness of Indian caste system, particularly visible in the rural areas.
CBFC: U 1974 ‧ Drama/Romance ‧ 2h 11m
Description Dalit couple Lakshmi and Kishtayya are happily married. When Surya, the village landlord's son, gets intimate with Lakshmi, it damages her reputation.
Release date: 1974 (India)
CBFC: A 1975 ‧ Bollywood/Drama ‧ 2h 23m
Description Vishwam, a married man, is the son of a powerful landlord. Although he has no vices like his brothers, he is obsessed with Sushila, the schoolmaster's wife and gets her kidnapped.
Release date: 5 September 1975 (India)
Manthan (1976) also portrayed the caste divide in the rural pockets of the country. All three films, without glamorizing or celebrating the casteist issue, focused mainly on how caste plays havoc with the lives of the low-caste who are also crippled by poverty and illiteracy. These films bring Benegal’s interest in power relations to the fore. The four-cornered struggle — among the untouchables, the traditional middle-class, the rising rural capitalists and the new cooperatives led by middle-class agents of change — all this is traced with a political consciousness which is evident in later films like Aarohan (1982) and Mandi (1983).
1976 ‧ Drama/Bollywood ‧ 2h 14m
Description A veterinarian, Dr. Rao, makes a visit to a village, where he intends to commence a co-operative society dairy for the betterment of the rural people.
Release date: 1976 (India)
In Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh (1980), Lahanya Bhiku a low-caste, poor and illiterate tribal, is accused of having murdered his wife Nagi. The woman had been gang-raped and murdered by the bigwigs of the village. Lahanya refuses to speak, even to his empathetic lawyer, who has risen from a poor background. While on death row, he is brought to perform the last rites of his dead father, his hands and feet shackled. As he circles the burning pyre, he lets out a final cry of anguish (Aakrosh) and slays his young sister, lest she befall the fate his wife did. This silence stands on its own.
Alternative Titles: The Ascending Scale; The Ascent
Studio: West Bengal Govt
Writer: Shama Zaidi; Cinematographer: Govind Nihalani; Composer: Purna Das Baul
Cast: Om Puri, Sreela Majumdar, Victor Bannerjee, Rajen Tarafdar, Geeta Sen, Pankaj Kapoor, Khoka Mukherjee
IMDb ID: 0083575; Links: en.wikipedia.org
The small farmer Hari Mondal (Puri) supports an extended family working on his little plot of land. When he tries to obtain a loan from his absentee landlord living in Calcutta, Mondal finds himself ensnared in a lengthy legal battle, lasting from 1967 to 1977, to preserve his political rights as a sharecropper. In the process, his family is destroyed. One of the better known of several films produced by the communist government of West Bengal to portray through fiction their political programmes: in this case, Operation Barga, a successful campaign of land for landless tillers. Benegal starts the film with Om Puri introducing himself, the cameraman, scenarist and other crew members who are to enact the performance to follow. The rest of the film, however, once it starts, attempts no further alienation devices except perhaps a spectacular and stagey scene of lightning and floods.
Shyam Benegal (Director) - Show Filmography
(b. 1934) Hindi director born in Trimulgherry, AP; also worked in Telugu. Made first amateur film aged 12 with father’s camera; nephew of Guru Dutt.
Studied economics at Osmania University, Hyderabad; involved in student theatre. Founded Hyderabad Film Society. Moved to Bombay and worked for Lintas advertising agency (1959-63) and for Advertising & Sales Promotion Co. (1963-73). Made more than 900 advertisements and 11 corporate films (1959- 73). Worked as documentarist; taught at the FTII (1969) and at Bhavan College (1966-73). Received Homi Bhabha fellowship (1969-72), allowing a stay in Britain and in the USA where he worked as associate producer for Boston WGBH TV and with the Children’s Television Workshop in New York. First feature, Ankur, with a 10-year-old script and independently financed, uses a quasi-realist style then considered antagonistic to the Hindi film industry. Its commercial success in the wake of Bhuvan Shome (1969) spawned a new sector of film-making later known as ‘middle cinema’ (cf. New Indian Cinema).
Early work situated in rural environment (Ankur and Nishant in AP, Manthan in Gujarat), using professional actors but with explicit references to the peasant unrest, initially CPI(ML)-led (see Naxalite) and acquiring a national dimension after the failure of the 1971-2 harvests. This work provided an early aesthetic articulation of what would soon become official government media policy towards the rural areas via the SITE programme. Later features are closer to the entertainment-led ‘middle cinema’. Made several features (including fiction) on commission for clients, e.g. the National Dairy Development Board in Gujarat (Manthan), the CPI(M)-led Government of West Bengal (Aarohan), the Handloom Co-operatives (Susman), Indian Railways (Yatra), an Indo- Soviet government-sponsored feature- documentary (Nehru) and the 53-episode TV serial based on Nehru’s book, The Discovery of India (Bharat Ek Khoj). Influential presence in national film policy organisations.
Bhumika starring Smita Patil based on Hansa Wadia
Govind Nihalani (Cinematographer) - Show Filmography
(b. 1940) Hindi director born in Karachi (now Pakistan) into a merchant family. During Partition, his family fled to Udaipur (1947) and then to Delhi. Studied cinematography at S.J. Polytechnic, Bangalore (1959-62). Assisted cameraman V.K. Murthy in Bombay (1962-71). An early and influential colleague was Bombay-based playwright and theatre director Satyadev Dubey, whose Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe (1971) was Nihalani’s first feature as cameraman. Shot over 200 advertising films and documentaries, directing 100 more for Krishna Movies in Bombay. Also shot Benegal’s early films. Turned director in 1980. Made Tendulkar-scripted political films dealing with urban crime and official corruption. Did 2nd unit work for Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982). His box-office hit Ardh Satya, used a Dirty Harry plot which was familiar in Hindi and regional commercial cinemas (e.g. Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer, 1973, in Hindi, and S.V. Rajendra Singh’s Antha, 1981, in Kannada). Ardh Satya itself was adapted into Tamil by K. Vijayan (Kaval, 1985). Takes politically sensational topics and turns them into individual moral dilemmas, usually enacted by Om Puri. His TV serial Tamas, set during Partition, proved controversial and resulted in a court ruling asserting the right to freedom of expression on TV. Recent work mainly adaptations of stage plays to TV (Ibsen, Strindberg and Lorca). A book-length interview with Nihalani was published in 1992 (ed. Samik Bandyopadhyay).
Om Puri (Cast) - Show Filmography
(b. 1950) Character actor, born in Ambala, Punjab, who shot to stardom in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh followed by his best-known screen role, the police officer in Ardh Satya. A former student of the National School of Drama (1970-3) in Delhi and the FTII (1974-6), Pune. Taught at Roshan Taneja’s Actors’ Studio, Bombay (1976-8). Formed the Majma Theatre group which staged its opening play, Udhwastha Dharmashala, at Shashi Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre. This was followed by Bichhoo (The Scorpion). Feature début in B.V. Karanth’s Chor Chor Chhupja followed by Benegal’s Bhumika. His gaunt, pockmarked face and deep-set eyes tended to be used as a demotic archetype even before his Nihalani films and Benegal’s Aarohan, e.g. in Saeed Mirza’s rhetorical student documentary, An Actor Prepares. This image, one of the icons of the New Indian Cinema, was also mobilised in Attenborough’s Gandhi where he played an angry slum-dweller. His main departures from this persona, Ketan Mehta’s Bhavni Bhavai and Mirch Masala, recall his earlier stage work mixing Ibsenite naturalism (An Enemy of the People, Udhwastha Dharmashala) with folk musicals (Bichhoo, Jasma Odan), both styles rendered with equal elan. Was a member of the Yukt Film Co-operative, playing the difficult title role in the experimental film Ghashiram Kotwal. Played a major role in the Punjabi hit Chann Pardesi. Late 80s/90s films in Hindi (main villain in N. Chandra’s Narasimha) and Telugu (Ram Gopal Varma’s Ratri, and Uma Maheshwara Rao’s Darshana and Ankuram).
Sreela Majumdar (Cast) - Show Filmography
Shreela Majumdar was born on 27th June in Kolkata to Ramchandra Majumdar and Kumkum Majumdar. She studied in Aswani Dutta Memorial School and got her bachelor degree from Bangabasi College, under Calcutta University. Her film debut was 'Parashuram' directed by Mrinal Sen though her first released film was 'Ek Din Pratidin' also directed by Mrinal Sen. She also acted in Sen's 'Akaler Sandhane', 'Kharij', and 'Khandahar'. Came to be associated with the Indian New Wave, especially the political films of Mrinal Sen. Other important films include, Utpalendu Chakraborty's 'Chokh' ('The Eyes') (1982), Shyam Benegal's 'Arohan' (1982) and 'Mandi' (1983), Kalpana Lajmi's 'Ek Pal' (1986) and Rituparno Ghosh's 'Chokher Bali' (2003) where she dubbed for Aishwarya Rai. She married journalist S.N.M Abid on 3rd January 1990 and moved to Delhi. She continues to act, primarily in Bengali TV serials.
Rajen Tarafdar (Cast) - Show Filmography (June 7, 1917 - November 23, 1987) Bengali film director, writer and actor, born in Rajsahi, British India (now in Bangladesh). He graduated from the Government College of Art and Craft in Calcutta in 1940 with popular arts as major. Trained as commercial designer and worked for J. Walter Thompson (1944-58). Active in amateur theatre. Introduced to cinema via Renoir’s presence in India to shoot The River (1951), the Calcutta Film Society and exposure to Italian neo-realism (Ganga can be seen as a variant on La terra trema, 1947). Best-known films try to integrate fiction and ethnographic realism into quasi-documentary regime: Ganga and Nagpash were shot in the Sundarbans region in a fishing community. Claimed influence of vérité film-makers Jacques Rozier, Francois Reichenbach and Chris Marker. Innovative use of crane shots, long takes and diffused lighting, which, Chidananda Das Gupta suggests, contradicts the otherwise realist intention by evoking romanticised notions of a Sonar Bangla (Golden Bengal). Also scripted his own Akash Chhoan and Palanka in addition to e.g. Sansar Simantey (1975) and Ganadevata (1978). Acted in Mrinal Sen’s Akaler Sandhaney (1980), S. Benegal’s Aarohan (1981), and Shekhar Chatterjee’s Vasundhara (1984).
His films, especially 'Antariksha' and 'Ganga', are considered prime examples in social realism that had considerable influence on the New Cinema movement.
Mandi (1983) मंडी
Shyam Benegal films often explore broad social themes through a closely focused lens, in detailed studies of relationships among a handful of people. Mandi ("market") is broader in scope, featuring a large number of characters whose relationships form an intricate web in which concepts like loyalty, morality, and duplicity are tangled. A wry film with a healthy dose of black comedy, Mandi presents a sarcastic look at the tension between venerable but questionable traditions and modernity in its various forms.
Rukmini bai (Shabana Azmi) is a madam who runs her brothel with a stern and demanding hand. Aided by her melancholy houseboy Dhungrus (Naseeruddin Shah), Rukmini is protective of her girls, especially the brothel's virginal prize, Zeenat (Smita Patil), who is permitted to spend her days practicing her music and kathak instead of submitting to the kotha's more lascivious customers. When a sanctimonious moralist, Shanti Devi (Gita Siddharth), flexes her political muscle in an attempt to drive the brothel out of town, Rukmini turns to her landlord Mr. Gupta (Kulbushan Kharbanda) for assistance, but finds in him only a conditional ally. Caught in the crossfire is the town's mayor, Agrawal (Saeed Jaffrey), who is under the powerful Shanti Devi's thumb but also beholden to Rukmini, lest she air his own dirty laundry.
Rounding out the vast network of players is a terrified mute girl (Sreela Majumdar) married under pretext and sold by her new husband to Rukmini; a dirty-minded photographer (Om Puri) who prowls around trying to snap naked pictures of the tawaifs; a police-wala who does his "night duty" at the brothel; Agrawal's son, engaged to Gupta's daughter but madly in love with Zeenat; Shanti Devi's beleaguered assistant (Pankaj Kapur); a crazed and pious hermit (Amrish Puri) who shows Rukmini how to extract wishes from a variety of holy objects; and all the girls of the brothel (including Soni Razdan and Ila Arun), with their varying levels of satisfaction and loyalty to Rukmini.
That's an awful lot to squeeze into a film, and the squeezing does, to some degree, compress Benegal's characters into two dimensions. The outstanding talent of the cast offers some compensation, though, allowing each character to be vividly rendered despite the tendency toward archetypy. The darkly comic tone of the entire film enhances the vividness of the characterizations.
Without it, the film would collapse under the weight of its themes. Delivering the tale with archness, teetering on the brink of tumbling over the top, allows the actors a breadth of expression that helps them pop out of the screen. Amrish Puri's bug-eyed ascetic, Saeed Jaffrey's nervously buffoonish aristocrat, Naseeruddin Shah's droopy drunk - each plays to the back of the house in a departure from Benegal's usual hyper-realist style, yet the broad style is precisely what renders each of them memorable.
Shabana Azmi's turn is the broadest of them all, and her performance is deliciously physical and yet still evoactively subtle.
Rukmini flits between angry snarls and obsequious smiles at a moment's notice, one minute dripping with maternal concern and the next barking orders like a foreman. And she cannot resist a mirror, interrupting herself often, whether mid-tirade, mid-sob, or even mid-prayer, to smooth a stray strand of hair. If there is an overarching mood to the changeable Rukmini, it's that she never for a moment displays an ounce of sincerity. Indeed, most of the characters in Mandi are somehow scheming, double-crossing, or working both sides against the middle. From the brothel girls whose loyalty to Rukmini is fragile and fleeting, to Zeenat who is not nearly as ingenuous as she seems, and even to the pompous Shanti Devi who (we learn from a throw-away line of Rukmini's) is having an affair with her own son-in-law, each of the characters is concealing a card or two. And it is this ubiquitous duplicity that gives Mandi its entertaining edge - it's hard not to laugh watching these colorful characters squirm, hedge, and lie through their teeth.
Mandi's final scene is a little bit puzzling, but the ultimate message may be that degradation is in the eye of the beholder, and that perhaps the concealed hypocrisy of those who call themselves modern and upright is just as oppressive as the ancient traditions of the kotha. Whatever the true moral of this amorality tale may be, though, it is a terrific film.
Directed by Prakash Jha
Produced by Prakash Jha
Written by Shaiwal
Starring Annu Kapoor
Pyare Mohan Sahay
Music by Raghunath Seth
Cinematography Rajen Kothari
Release date 31 December 1984
Running time 106 min
Budget ₹12 lakh (US$17,000)
Still from Damul (1985)
Prakash Jha’s Damul (1985) is one of the boldest films that seamlessly explored the casteist and capitalist politics in some pockets of rural India like Bihar. The onslaughts on the oppressed come like a whiplash. An entire Dalit basti is held to ransom; the basti is gheraoed to stop the residents from casting their votes, subjecting them to the mandatory repayment of debts they had never taken, forcing them to steal cattle for the landlord who leaves them to die if and when caught, but not at his doorstep. The final blow comes when Sanjeevana, an innocent Harijan from the Dalit basti is sentenced to be hanged to death because he turned wise to the landlord’s wicket ways. Many years later, the same Jha made Aarakshan (2011). The film purported to be a socio-political drama based on the controversies revolving around caste-based reservations in Indian government jobs and in educational institutions.
Swati Mehta in Exploring caste in Hindi cinema (Meri News, April 04, 2009) points out how “..the majority of the stakes in the film industry is held by higher castes, their films portray a very elitist image and way of life. The culture and traditions shown in the films, for instance are very brahmanical. Or the concept of class has taken over caste in popular cinema. For instance, in Karan Johar’s films or in films made by Yash Chopra, one comes across titles like Raichand, Mehra, Melhotra etc, mainly high caste Punjabis who are rich businessmen. Their marriage ceremony is based on the Brahminical tradition with the priest given supreme importance. Lavish weddings and related ceremonies are another feature, which reflects the feudal nature of the Indian society. The rich and flamboyance can be attributed to the same.”
But there are been attempts to pay lip service to the caste schism in lavishly-mounted, high-budget and big-star films in recent times where the casteist issue is used as an agency to hit the bull’s eye at the box office, to get tax exemption for tackling a socially relevant issue and perhaps, to win brownie points that might fetch some noted awards.
There are many similar films playing the Dalit card in Bollywood but even if the means are good, the end does not justify the means. In other words, the technical brilliance and artistic excellences are neatly undercut by the pretentious hypocrisy presented in the narrative. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Eklavya (2007) is an example in which 800 camels were reportedly used in an action sequence in Eklavya. This spells out the film’s true agenda – glamour and chutzpah. Eklavya presented the radical and “new” Dalit in the shape and form of a bold police officer Pannalal Chauhar who not only asserts his Dalit identity but also bristles against the caste based feudal oppression that still pervades in parts of Rajasthan.
The realistic portrayal
The small-budget films made by relatively young, debutant directors have fared much better in profiling the Dalit identity on celluloid.
Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court (2014) which bagged the Best Film Award at the 62nd National Film Awards last year, it not about the Dalit identity at all. Yet, it subtly pulls us to read into the tragedy of the life of a sewer cleaner who not only has to live within desperate poverty but also has to earn through an occupation – cleaning dirty sewers – that carries a perpetual life risk. He dies while cleaning sewers. They say he was drunk which he is bound to be. Drinking for him is a strategy to keep away from the inhuman dregs his work deals in – human and animal excreta and much more. Others say he did not have the mask a sewer cleaner must mandatorily be given while a third explanation is that he died due to the poisonous gases that had collected inside the sewer. It does not matter which led to his death because his death itself, as much as his life, does not matter.
A still from Masaan (2015). Pic: Shoma Chatterji
Masaan (2015) shifts our vision from the glamorous chutzpah of cities like Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata where most Hindi films are located to a relatively subordinated ‘smaller’ city like Varanasi. The city represents itself through the stories of five characters trapped while trying to discover/rediscover themselves between the ancient that the city represents and the modern the city cannot reject.
The Harishchandra Ghat with its steady flow of dead bodies lit up by the raging flames of the funeral pyres with the doms (chandals) stoking the fires with sticks and beating up the bones and the skulls so that the bodies can burn quickly. One of these chandals is a young and handsome Deepak from a ‘dom’ family who studies civil engineering at night school and helps his father and uncle at the ghat burning dead bodies. He falls in love with a college-going, sprightly, poetry-loving young girl Shaalu Gupta who is from a well-to-family from a higher caste. Does he become a civil engineer and walk away from his family profession. Masaan does not offer easy answers.
The Dalits are not the sole subjects of oppression among the caste-ridden masses of India, never mind that this oppression cuts across the rural and the urban, language, education and social status. The women, who may or may not be Dalit, are equally or perhaps more oppressed and so are the children from the Dalit community.
Torture, and human rights violations committed against certain groups of people have a rather democratic character in our country. All this and much more come across in journalist-turned-director Bikash Mishra’s directorial debut Chauranga (2016) that released across Indian theatres in January this year. The story takes off from a real life tragedy in which a 14-year-old Dalit boy was killed by upper caste men because he had the ‘gumption’ to write a love letter. Chauranga takes this incident as a peg to build up a bigger story placed on a larger canvas of characters located somewhere in Jharkhand.
These are very low-key films that have neither romance nor action nor suspense nor song-and-dance numbers. Everything is real, raw, straightforward and simple. The understated events, characters and their interaction against an authentic backdrop have a lot of potential drama but the directors have refused to dramatize them. No wonder we are mesmerised and fascinated by these honest films. The question is – will these directors continue to make such low-key celluloid statements on significant social issues? One has to wait and watch.
Shoma Chatterji and other sources
Dr. Shoma A Chatterji, freelance journalist and author, writes on cinema, media, human rights, cultural issues and gender.