I watched Article 15 with three fellow-Dalits—two stalwart Dalit activists and a female Ambedkarite poet. Does it reflect the marketing of this film as a credible anti-caste cultural text that we gravitated to the cinema halls? Many questions plague my mind.
Article 15 is a movie written and directed by an upper caste film maker unlike the movies of Ambedkarite film makers like Nagraj Munjule (Marathi), Pa Ranjtih (Tamil) or Mari Selvaraj (Tamil) whose films have successfully transcended glass ceilings.
The rape, murder and subsequent cover-up of evidence at the provocation of demand for a mere Rs3 increase in wages are reminiscent of Kilvenmani massacre—where a demand for a slightly higher wage by Dalit landless laborers resulted in a violent retribution from the dominant land owning castes—brilliantly documented in the novel by Indian English writer Meena Kandasamy inThe Gypsy Goddess. On the night of December 25, 1968, 44 Dalits (including 16 women and 23 children) were burnt alive by the upper caste landlords in Kizhavemani village in Tamil Nadu and that heinous act changed the political landscape of the state.