VIDEO | Why Ambedkar is the new face of Indian Cinema

Ambedkar is slowly entering popular cinema, TV and OTT platforms is an acknowledgement that Dalit-Bahujan cultural values are slowly being integrated into mainstream media.  | Video Credit: Reporting by Harish S Wankhede, Video by Saatvika Radhakrishna, Camera by Thamodharan B and Edited by Sambavi Parthasarathy

From Bollywood blockbusters to regional films and OTT originals, Ambedkar’s image and message are finding new resonance in Indian popular culture.

Published : Jan 05, 2024 13:53 IST - 1 MIN READ

The year 2023 will be remembered in the history of Indian cinema for many blockbusters. Films like Pathan, Gadar, Jawan and Animal crossed the Rs 1000-crore milestone, setting new benchmarks for commercial success. The industry grew in range too, with spectacular action dramas, song and dance entertainers, and emotional narratives vying for attention. But it will be remembered for one other thing. It was the year when both B.R. Ambedkar and the issue of caste were able to make an entry into the mass cultural landscape.

A still from Jai Bhim.

A still from Jai Bhim. | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

Even though Babasaheb Ambedkar is one of the founding figures of the nation, he has been systematically neglected by Indian cinema over the years. Similarly, political and social narratives associated with Dalit communities have been conspicuous by their absence. Even when the Hollywood director, Richard Attenborough, made his magnum opus Gandhi, he left Ambedkar out of the film. For the longest time, historical films on the anti-colonial struggle, nation-building or nationalism offered rich tributes to iconic figures such as Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, and Subhash Chandra Bose, but kept out Ambedkar’s heroic anti-caste struggles, social reform movements, and the precarious socio-economic conditions the Dalits perpetually inhabited.

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