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Mari Selvaraj

Where: Pariyerum Perumal

Why: Pa. Ranjith has been trying for a while to fuse his Dalit politics with the “genre” mechanics of a mainstream Tamil movie. But the closest he’s come to realising his dream is not in a film he directed but one that he produced. Pariyerum Perumal was Mari Selvaraj’s first feature, and it disrupted not just the audience’s notion of what a Dalit character was supposed to do on screen but also Pa. Ranjith’s notion of on-screen Dalits, who are angry people. Mari Selvaraj’s protagonist was angry, sure, but his was also the voice of reason, and it resonated far and wide. The film was a well-deserved success, which is all the more appreciable because it broke free from the belief that “message movies” have to be couched in a more familiar “genre”. Simply put, the film created its own genre.




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