Oh, it is a movie about caste issues, progress, and all that. How nice! Do you know the talented Siddiqui is playing an assertive but cunning Tamil Dalit? Wow, As a caste-less, conformist, populist liberal, I am already experiencing a filmgasm. After years of rottenly skewed representation of these Achut, Neech, Bangi, Chamar, dalit, Pichde, Pariah, Quota Dhari, Bechare, Chandal, Kasai, Junglee, Garib, Harijan, khanjar log, finally, some positive colors are thrown on them. They should at least be grateful!
Though normally as a global citizen floating in my transcendental-metaphysical space contemplating on Neitzschian, Heideggerian stuff, I do not normally engage in such petty things like Jati-Vati. Butt what a stellar piece of whit by Mishra Ji. I am so happy for Mishra Ji, he will finally get the most prestigious award of Hindu-Wood — (Drumroll) – The Best Messiah Award. After so many revered twice-born directors and writers like Sinha Ji, Roy Ji, Tamhane Ji, Jha Ji, Rao Ji, Kapur Ji, Sharma Ji, Chaubey Ji, Narayan Ji, Tharoor Ji, Rai Srivastava Ji, Joseph Ji, Gandhi Ji, finally, our own Mishra Ji will be the next Messiah for these dumb millions. After all, he deserves it. How radical is the movie Serious Men? How caustic a satire it is on the stinking caste-system? Only some primitive minds will deny that ‘Serious Men’ is chutiastically progressive cinema.
Just look at the arc of the movie, it starts with the hero of the movie- Aravind Acharya, a Tamil Brahmin- a.k.a. serious man, efficiently and seriously running the esteemed national scientific research institute. But as all great heroes suffer from hamartia, legendary Acharya Ji’s fatal flaw is his Brahmanical Irritation and Anger Syndrome. Because of this neurological condition, he is conditioned to get angry and hysterical on spotting any sharp or intelligent but sub-human species and treat them, (for the lack of better words) like da-lit, lower caste, untouchable, or animals. (Maybe I should not use the word animal here, cows may find it offensive.)
The narrative soon starts building up on the eponymous brahmin protagonist’s search for the creator of the universe- the Brahma a.k.a microbial aliens in the stratosphere. In the subplots through crafty maneuvers, Mishra Ji, throttles the fact that caste is nothing but a euphemism for clASS, precisely what the Upanayana School of Marxism has been trying to hinge on for years. Though the narrative gets sidetracked in dazzling the audience with a cute kid for a while. This subplot where a rascal sub-human Dalit P.A. Ayyan Manni tries to embroil his 100 percent Shuddh da-lit kid Adi (Aakhath Das) in fishy schemes to fulfill his 3rd generational lower caste dream – “Condoms pe dot kyu hona chahiyeh aesa samjha sake, vaise naukri karna” as succinctly put by 4 caste-less screenwriters, has been seen as incongruous to the main plot by some critic of reputation.
But soon, the narrative is back on track as– unperturbed by devious dalits scheming his downfall, unconcerned about research ethics, frauding his ass out, oblivious of his brah-maniacal privileges but eager to unload the brahmin’s burden on primitive minds. The first-born, the lord of this whole creation, the highest on the earth, the great practitioner of onanism, the parasitical, the entitled Equus Asinus– Acharya Ji remains steadfast even in a brief loss of his directorship at the premier ScIenCe iNstitUte- this is the great show of peripeteia in our Hindu-s-Tani tragedy. But Mishraji reserves his masterstroke for revealing that in a putative cinema about Dalit assertion, how fucking important is a trope of a corrupt Dalit politician? Mishraji’s stylistic achievement lies in joyfully painting the grim social realism where these Dalit agadi- pichadi dal politicians coming from some Patal-Lok indulge in useless idpol, and they are even ready to cut throats of their fellow jans to advance their political careers.
Casteism is so deeply ingrained in India that nowadays every Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi is clamoring for their rights and representation and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make them understand, that it is also their Kartvay (duty) as a Bharatiya to run hashtags like #Blacks, #Brahmin Lives Matter five times a day on Twitter, as elucidated in Yajur-Veda vol.1.263. It is not that everything is bleak, after all, we are living in the 21st-century, creative use of RSA has been employed in unearthing the wild conspiracy of PM’s assassination, stopping miscreants of Kabir Kala Manch (Bhima-Koregaon) from inciting Jatiya-Danga, poetically arresting a Dalit activist on the 14th of April, uApAing every dissenting, questioning scholar, activist, professor, poet, activist, writer, etc. Complacency is the vedic virtue, these educated, assertive, vocal, and internet-savvy DBAs politicians, scholars, artists lack. As we are twice-born, hence more experienced, it is our job to tell them every now and then that there is no such thing as DBA pov and to turn back sacred savarna’s gaze is a Sisyphean task. Therefore messianic Mishra bases his movie on the philosophy of Acta non-Verba.
It is not hyperbolic to say that Mishra is Spike Lee of Indian cinema. If you are not convinced, just look at how brilliantly he completes the arc of the Ridiculous Men in the pivotal moment of anagnorisis when Asstro- sexist Acharya undergoes a cardiovascular change when confronted with the reality of his birth. This particular cathartic scene at the art gallery put even Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to shame. In the swiftest mishraesque manner, the protagonist Dronacharya gets purified of his B.I.A.S and realizes that as a savarna, the savior complex is the default mode. Therefore, in the characteristic, paternalistic, savaranastic audacity, scam guru Dronãcharya tells the Eklavya- “Your angst is right but your actions are not”. Thoughtful Ambedkarites find this dialogue deeply troubling, but who listens to them?
In the end- with the grace of metropolitan dwij God- the Dr. Acharya ji’s ‘exit strategy’, “helps” Ayann Manni to outcast himself to some village for his own good. I do not know why that self-proclaimed leader of untouchables- the M.A, Ph.D, D.Sc, M.Sc, L.L.D, D-Litt, Barrister of Law, No.1 Scholar in World- Dr. Ambedkar called villages a “colonialism of Hindus designed to exploit the untouchables”. After all Ayan Manni is happily and silently content in that village. His wife now romanticizes riding the bicycle, and for full time runs a punitive shop. His cute kid finally realizes that he is nothing but a slow ordinary kid with no merit destined to study in the fancy govt schools, and score 55% all his life (After-all 55% hi toh chahiyeh in quota kids ko IIT/MIT/Ashoka/AIMS me padhne ke liye). Therefore all modern intellectual minds dealing, delineating, and dissecting dalits should pat themselves. Truly this movie is a master’s- piece.
– Sissy Sharoor
Ankit Ramteke is a Post-Graduate of English Literature from Delhi University. He is an aspiring researcher in the field of Dalit Literature.