A Tamil Trio: Views on the Cinema of Tamil Nadu in the 21st Century

At Ultra Dogme, we would like to present a special dossier. Contained therein are two exegeses and one forking path that burrow into the warp and weft, and wider political and social implications, of cinema in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu in the 21st century. 

First up is Squeal Like A Pig, an essay by Srikanth Srinivasan on a common feature of many recent Tamil films: custodial violence. Referring back to Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan (1987) and then reaching forward as far as more recent works like Visaaranai (2015) and Jai Bhim (2021), Srinivasan offers a sharp formalist and political analysis of the power, gender and visual dynamics of this particular aesthetic of violence. For Aswathy Gopalakrishnan, in her piece Digging Shallow And Deep, the farmer is a potent figure in both cinema and wider cultural and political life in Tamil Nadu, intertwined. She unravels how this powerful symbol has been worn and wielded by the left and the right, by superstars and dissident filmmakers. Meanwhile Mahesh S and Anuj Malhotra use the piercing veil of fiction to consider the pitfalls and possibilities of independent filmmaking within the 2000s Tamil cinema scene. A Sculpture of Ashes is an expansive Künstlerroman, a young man’s tragedy and a critical commentary revolving around the struggle of autonomous artistry within an overwhelming industry.

A Tamil Trio

Squeal Like a Pig – Custodial Violence in Tamil Cinema
by Srikanth Srinivasan

Digging Shallow and Deep – Portrayals of ‘The Farmer’ in New Tamil Cinema
by Aswathy Gopalakrishnan

A Sculpture of Ashes – Liner Notes on a Modern Cinephilic Tragedy
by Mahesh S & Anuj Malhotra

This dossier was made possible through funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department for Communities, Northern Ireland.

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