Social media has been abuzz with rumours that actor Ajith might reprise Ayushmann Khurrana’s role in director Anubhav Sinha’s latest hit Article 15. The rumours gained credence when it came to light that producer Boney Kapoor had bought the remake rights of the film. However, a source close to the actor clarified to Silverscreen that this was a mere “rumour”.
The bond between Boney and Ajith resulted in Nerkonda Paarvai, directed by H Vinoth, and an official remake of Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Pink. Even then, during promotions for the film, the producer rued that his wife, the late Sridevi, was not around to see him embark on this journey into Tamil cinema. His next, Ajith’s 60th film, is again with Vinoth, and is said to be high on action.
With Nerkonda Paarvai, Ajith tread a path where no hero of his stature in Tamil cinema had gone before. In an industry where heroes normally tell the heroines how to “behave” like women or how to “protect” themselves in this big, bad world, Nerkonda Paarvai batted for women, showed they could have sex lives and could party, and yet demand to stay safe, and that a no indeed meant a no. There were fears the film would be watered down for Tamil audiences, but that did not, thankfully, happen.
Even before this, in director Siva’s Viswasam, Ajith’s role was progressive and pro-woman, considering it was a mainstream commercial film.
Article 15 came with its attendant issues, with its distinctly upper caste gaze, and many Dalit activists and film critics had an issue with the upperclass saviour trope employed in the film. Sinha’s reasoning was that the privileged must question privilege, and that it would have been too Bollywood to have a Dalit hero.
That said, if the film gets made in Tamil with some hero, it will interesting to see how the film will be set in the Tamil Nadu context. This is the land of Periyar and social justice, but it is also a land that has seen a lot of honour killings and caste-based violence in the past few years. Even as recently as June 2019, protests broke out in Valayapatti after two Dalit women who were appointed to work in the local anganwadi were transferred after caste Hindus petitioned the local administration that their children would not eat food prepared by Dalits. The order was later revoked.