Lijo Jose Pelliserry’s film Jallikattu is symbolic of the de-civilising of society—the savagery that lurks just below the surface of a progressive one comes to the fore—like a beast that breaks loose and is on the rampage. Centuries of the so called “culture” and “civilization” have only managed to contain or suppress the primordial beast within us but not annihilate it.
The story is set in a nameless, high range village where the staple diet of the highlanders is buffalo meat, which is relished in various combinations: buffalo meat and toddy, buffalo meat and tapioca, well, you can say buffalo meat in any form is a must. No caterer is worth his salt unless he serves up the piece de resistance: buffalo meat fried with bow-shaped coconut pieces.
The best cuts are available only at butcher Varkey’s (Chemban Vinod Jose), picked up by the villagers on their way to church for morning mass. It’s a ritual that is as important as the spiritual one, the purchase of fresh meat being given slightly more reverence. The priest of the church too swears by Varkey’s meat and, a warm, bloody parcel is delivered to him straight after the morning mass.