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Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Caste Of The Protagonist Matters In Bollywood

35 Bollywood film released between January 2019 to March 2020 did not have a single protagonist belonging to the Dalit / Backward castes

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Prashant Kanojia
Prashant Kanojia
Journalist based in Mumbai and Delhi. Formerly worked with The Wire Hindi and Indian Express. Last College: Indian Institute of Mass Communication

INDIA. Mumbai. Caste discrimination in India is highly valued and practiced by affluent educated people across all fields right from the political system to art fraternity. Indian Bollywood is mainly a field which is very much ignorant towards the social background of India and the prevailing caste system. If we start looking at the top 35 films released between January 2019 to March 2020, we can easily make out the ignorance of the writer / director towards the caste dynamics and it also defines the identity of the protagonist and its social background. 

All 35 popular films do not have a single protagonist, who belongs to lower caste or from the ‘untouchable’ community. It’s not about the real identity of actors, but the name or character played by actors in the films. They keep blabbering about the diversity but are still not aware of the fact. Or maybe the writers are purposefully penning the stories only about the upper-caste society and community. Looking at the social structure of 35 films the protagonist only belongs to the upper caste and not a single from backward community or Dalits. 

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Following list of films with protagonist name and caste.

War – Hrithik Roshan – Major Kabir – Upper Caste

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Kabir Singh – Shaheed Kapoor – Dr Kabir Singh – Upper Caste

Uri – Vicky Kaushal – Vihaan Shergill – Upper Caste

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Good News – Akshay Kumar – Varun Batra – Upper Caste

Mission Mangal – Akshay Kumar – Rakesh Dhawan – Upper Caste

Dabangg 3 – Salman Khan – Chulbul Pandey – Upper Caste

Lukka Chuppi – Karthik Aryan – Vinod Shukla – Savarna

Ek Ladki ko Dekha tho Aisa Laga – Anil Kapoor – Balbir Chaudhary – Upper caste

Sonchiriya – Sushant Singh Rajput – Lakhan Singh – Upper Caste

Badla – Amitabh Bachchan – Badal Gupta – Upper Caste

Student of the Year 2 – Tiger Shroff – Rohan Sachdev – Upper Caste

De De Pyar De – Ajay Devgn – Ashish Mahara – Upper Caste

Article 15 – Ayushmann Khurrana – Ayan Ranjan – Upper Caste

Judgmentall Hai Kya – Kangana Ranaut – Bobby Garewal – Upper Caste

Jabariya Jodi – Siddharth Malhotra – Abhay Singh – Upper Caste

Saho: Prabhas – Ashok Chakraborty – Upper Caste

Chhichhore – Sushant Singh Rajput – Anirudh Pathak – Upper Caste

Dream Girl – Ayushmann Khurrana – Karamveer Singh – Upper Caste

Article 375 – Akshaye Khanna – Tarun Saluja – Upper Caste

Pal Pal Dil Ke paas – Karan Deol – Karan Sehgal – Upper Caste

Prasthanam – Sanjay Dutt – Baldev Pratap Singh – Upper Caste

Made in China – Rajkumar Rao – Raghu Mehta – Upper Caste

Ujra Chaman – Sunny Singh – Chaman Kohli – Upper Caste

Bala – Ayushman Khurana – Balmukund Shukla – Upper Caste

Motichur Chakna Choor – Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Pushpendra Tyagi – Upper Caste

Commando 3 – Vidyut Jamwal – Karanvir Dogra – Upper Caste

Pati Patni Aur Wo – Karthik Aryan – Abhinav Tyagi – Upper Caste

Mardaani 2 – Rani Mukherjee – Shivani Roy – Upper Caste

Baghi 3 – Tiger Shroff – Ronnie Chaturvedi – Upper Caste

Street Dancer – Varun Dhawan – Bachao Singh Narula – Upper Caste

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan – Ayushman Khurana / Jitendra – Karthik Singh / Aman Tripathi – Upper Caste

Malang – Aditya Roy Kapur – Advait Thakur – Upper Caste

Jai Mummy Di – Sunny Singh – Puneet Khanna – Upper Caste

Thappad – Pavel Gulati – Vikram Sabarwal – Upper Caste

English Medium – Irrfan Khan – Champak Bansal – Upper Caste

Bollywood plays a very vast role in establishing the character in society. If we look at the film Bajirao Mastani, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Peshwa Bajirao is depicted as the greatest warrior, according to filmmaker but the writer was so ignorant towards the oppression of Dalits and ‘untouchables’ during Bajirao’s reign. If it is a biographical account of Peshwa then why such important elements were ignored? It raises question marks on the true intentions of filmmakers who want to establish a cruel oppressor as a hero. Similarly, last year a film named Article 15 was released and the main protagonist of the film again was an Upper Caste man, even though the story was about caste oppression of Dalits in Uttar Pradesh.

Dalits are often shown in a supporting role and they purposely cast actors with the dark complexion to portray the image of Dalits. Only a common backward community called Yadav are majorly found in Indian films, but they are also projected as criminals or corrupt politicians.

Indian writers and filmmakers should now be aware to their ignorance and should step down on the ground to look at the real face of the Indian society. If you call films a reflection of society then why 85% of the Indian society and their problems have been ignored. Why can’t Bollywood writers or directors digest the fact that even a character from backward community can be a protagonist or they simply feel that the caste of the protagonist matters? 

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  1. Most of the films are produced by upper caste producers.Therefore,all key roles are played by upper caste heroes and heroines.It is also reflected in cricket world.Here sorry to say even Olympic games are not free from that.on International level there’s no opportunity to so called lowercaste people. India is represented by only people belonging to 15% upper caste only. The remaining 85% no representation at all.

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