Despite being praised by critics as one of the most important socio-political Indian films of the year, the Tamil film Jai Bhim Tamil has been at the center of major controversy in India for its portrayal of systemic caste injustice in society, which prompted both intense support and violent threats against the film’s lead actor and its creators.
Jai Bhim’s The plot is based on a real-life incident from the 1990s, when members of the marginalized Irula tribe were falsely accused of theft and arrested, and sought justice after the death of a captive in police custody. A protracted legal battle followed.
Discrimination depicted in the film—Produced by critics and progressive groups—the Vanniyar Sangams—have launched a strong protest against members of the dominant Vanniya Kula Kshatriya caste of Tamil Nadu.
The Vanniyars claim that the film hurts the sentiments of their community and portrays them inappropriately, prompting them to release one. legal notice to all people associated with Jai Bhim, and has sought 50 million (about $67,000) in damages.
Members of the Vanniyar-led political party (Pattali Makkal Katchi, or PMK) just a day before legal action was initiated raided A theater in Mayiladuthurai, to stop the screening of a film, and the secretary of the district even offered A reward of 100,000 rupees (about $1,300) to anyone willing to attack the film’s star Suriya Shivakumar.
Suriya Sivakumar—the film’s protagonist and one of the most popular actors in Tamil cinema, mostly known by his first name—has been the target of much of the criticism and violent threats, which led him to Received Police Security.
But the actor managed to garner support from members of the Tamil film community and his fans, who trended on Twitter. #WeStandWithSuriya on Tuesday.