1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Caste and Cinema in India

Edited By Joshil K. Abraham, Judith Misrahi-Barak Copyright 2023
    440 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This companion is the first study of caste and its representation in Indian cinema. It unravels the multiple layers of caste that feature directly and indirectly in Indian movies, to examine not only the many ways caste pervades Indian society and culture but also how the struggle against it adopts multiple strategies.

    The companion:

    • Critiques Indian cinema production through the lens of anti-caste discourse;

    • Traces the history of films beginning from the early twentieth century, focusing on caste representations across India, including Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil as well as silent films;

    •  Makes a foray into OTT media;

    •  Includes analysis of popular films such as Padmaavat, Masaan, Fandry, Sairat, Sujata, Article 15, Chomana Dudi, Lagaan, Court, Ee.Ma.Yau, Kaala, Pariyerum Perumal, Perariyathavar, among many others, to critique and problematise the idea of caste.


    A major intervention, this book alters traditional approaches to ‘caste’ in Indian cinemas and society and explores new political strategies implemented through cinematic creation and aesthetics. It will be indispensable for scholars and researchers of film studies, social discrimination and exclusion studies, human rights, popular culture, and South Asian studies. It will also be of interest to enthusiasts of Indian cinematic history.

    List of figures

    List of contributors




    Shifting the Gaze



    Joshil K. Abraham and Judith Misrahi-Barak



    From Spectatorship to Agency


    1.      Dalit Representation in Hindi Cinema

    Harish S. Wankhede



    2.      To Kill or To Allow to Live: Caste Necropolitics, Ozhivudivasathe Kali, and Malayalam Cinema

    Rajesh James, Binu K. D., & Aswin Prasanth



    3.      The Oppositional Bahujan Agency

    Jyoti Nisha



    4.      Magizhchi! ‘The Casteless Collective’ and the Sensorial Exscription

    Dickens Leonard and Manju Edachira



    Making the Invisible Visible


    5.      Historiography and Historiophoty in Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15

    Debjani Banerjee



    6.      Arakshan and Article 15: Is there any Transformation in the ‘Brahminical Gaze’?

    Runa Chakraborty Paunksnis



    7.      Visualising the Invisible: Decoding Caste Pride and the Casteist Slur in Bollywood Films

    Sumit Rajak



    The Bigger Picture


    8.      Over-the-top: Online Media, Chromatics, and the Transnational Travels of Caste

    Purnima Mankekar and Sucharita Kanjilal



    9.      Indian Cinema, Hunger, and Food: Family, Class, and Caste

    Swarnavel Eswaran



    Caste and Gender


    10.  Re-cast(e)ing the New Woman: Caste and Gender in Contemporary Indian Cinema

    Megha Anwer and Anupama Arora



    11.  The Construction and Representation of Lower Caste Women in Bollywood Films

    Farhana Naaz



    12.  P. K. Rosy and Devaki Bai: Cast(e)ing the Malayalam Silent Film Actresses




    13.  Examining the Domain of Caste, Gender, and Sexuality through Select Films of Jayan K. Cherian

    Ved Prakash



    Caste on Trial


    14.  Dalit Subjectivity, Democracy, and Radical Equality or, What Bollywood Could Learn from Ambedkar

    Chinmaya Lal Thakur



    15.  The Constitution of/and Caste: Portrayal of Caste and Legal Justice in Three Contemporary Indian Films by Savarna Filmmakers

    Rituparna Sengupta



    16.  Beyond Violence and Non-violence: A Study of Dalit Resistance and Accommodation in Cinematic Popular Justice

    Ram Kumar Thakur



    The Entanglements of Caste and Nature


    17.  The Caste of Nature: Wholesome Bodies and Parasites in Bimal Roy’s Sujata and Gogu Shyamala’s ‘A Beauteous Light’

    Nicole Thiara


    18.  The Pig, the Black Sparrow, and the Sheep: Human-Animal Entanglements in Fandry and Khwada

    Shalmali Jadhav


    19.  Landless, Homeless, and Nameless: Locating Caste in the Environmental In/Justice in Perariyathavar

    P. Rajitha Venugopal



    Not Two but Three States


    20.  Framing Local Legends and the Caste Matrix in the Tamil Cinema of the late 1980s

    Stalin Rajangam and P. Aadhavan



    21.  The Alienation of the Other: Examining Marginal Narratives in Select Punjabi Films 

    Amandeep Kaur & Sahil Sharma



    22.  Caste, Voyeurism and Kannada New Wave Cinema

    Mahima Raj C.



    From Closer Up


    23.  Exploring Caste on Screen and Beyond: A Study of Chomana Dudi

    Jaishree Kapur



    24.  Screening Caste: ‘Untouchable’ Body, Labour and Remuneration in Lagaan

    Purnachandra Naik



    25.  The Untouchable Rajputs of Padmaavat and Beyond: A Cas(t)e Study

    Tanya Singh



    26.  Masaan, a Tale of Forbidden Love

    Ravinder Singh Rana



    27.  Beyond Narratives of Modernity, Pain and Pathos: Dalit Aesthetic in Kabali and Kaala

    Reju George Mathew



    28.  ‘Ella Manusanum inga onnu illa’: Imag(in)ing the Claustrophobia of Caste in Pariyerum Perumal

    B. Geetha


    29.  Caste, Coast, and Christianity in Kerala: Analysing the Visual Representation of Latin Catholics in Ee.Ma.Yau.

    Grace Mariam Raju


    Select Bibliography



    Joshil K. Abraham is an independent researcher. He is currently working on the Open University project for Cornerstone OnDemand.

    Judith Misrahi-Barak is Associate Professor at Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, France. She teaches in the English Department and is a member of the research center EMMA.