ASURAN and Rigidities in the Society|Film Analysis|Dhanush|Vetrimaran

Asuran: A Tale of Historical Injustice and Social Transformation in India

Asuran movie review

Asuran, a Tamil film directed by Vetrimaran, draws its inspiration from the novel " VEKKAI".  This powerful narrative sheds light on the historical injustices faced by landless, oppressed social groups. Set against the backdrop of the 1960s-1980s, the film delves into the conflict between feudal landlords, primarily belonging to upper-caste groups, and landless laborers from lower-caste backgrounds.

Asuran movie review

The Root of Caste System and Social Hierarchy:

The caste system, ingrained in Indian society, finds its roots in ancient texts like Manusmriti, which established a social hierarchy based on notions of purity and pollution. Historically, those at the top of this hierarchy excelled in education and occupied prominent government positions. In the movie, Prakashraj portrays Venugopal Seshadri, a lawyer and social activist exemplifying this trend.


Green Revolution and Dominant Castes:

The Green Revolution, aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity, had repercussions in the form of surplus-producing farmers. Substantial landowners, primarily from middle-level caste groups, often referred to as the "Dominant caste" by M.N. Srinivas, reaped the benefits. Characters like Aadukalam Naren's Vaddakuran Narasimhan in the film represent this segment, living luxuriously with tiled-roof houses and Ambassador cars.


Landless Laborers and Historical Injustice:

The lower strata of society comprised predominantly of landless individuals who worked as bonded laborers for the upper-caste social groups. During the British rule, the government recognized the plight of the Depressed class people and initiated land distribution policies to alleviate their suffering. Manju Warrier's character, Pachaiyammal, owned three acres of land in Thekoor but lived in a humble hut, isolated from the main village.


Industrialization and Land Disputes:

As India embarked on its journey of industrialization through the Second Five-Year Plan, plans for a chemical factory in the village brought about a significant land conflict. Narasimhan sought to acquire the three acres of land from the Sivasami (Dhanush) and Pachaiyammal families. This conflict between historical forces for change and resistance resulted in a violent confrontation.


Non-Violent Resistance:

Throughout the conflict, bloodshed and killings plagued the families. Remarkably, Dhanush's character, Sivasami, remained committed to non-violence, even when his first son, Velmurugan, fell victim to the upper-caste group's violence. His non-violent actions were a testament to his resilience in the face of massacres that claimed the lives of his family and social group. In the film's climax, Sivasami imparts a poignant message to his impulsive son, Chidambaram, emphasizing the enduring value of education.


Eradicating the Caste System:

The ideology of caste-based superiority persists in society today. To abolish the caste system, individuals must reform their thinking and develop the sensibility to value every human being, regardless of their social background. Treating all individuals with compassion and humanity is the only way to erase the ideology of caste pride and ensure equality for all.


The film underscores the futility of violence as a solution to historical injustices faced by the Depressed class social group. Instead, it advocates for education, land redistribution, reservations in higher education and employment, and individual morality as the catalysts for their upliftment and well-being. Technology and social media have the potential to create awareness about equality and humanity. However, the irony lies in the exploitation of platforms like YouTube and Facebook for caste mobilizations.

"Asuran" masterfully portrays the struggle against historical injustices in a deeply entrenched caste system. The film's message is clear: violence is not the solution, but education, land reform, and individual morality are the keys to upliftment and a more equitable society. The movie serves as a powerful reminder that real change begins with the transformation of individual perspectives and attitudes.