Members of the Kuravar tribal community staged a protest outside the residence of Suriya in Chennai on Thursday, claiming that the actor-producer’s recently-released film Jai Bhim shows their community in a poor light.
Jai Bhim, directed by TJ Gnanavel and produced by Suriya, was released on Amazon Prime Video on November 2. In it, the actor plays a lawyer who fights for justice for people from the Irular tribal community. The film, which deals with topics such as caste inequality and police brutality, is inspired by a real case from the 90s fought by Justice Chandru at the Madras High Court.
While the film has been appreciated by many for its portrayal of the trials of the Irulars, members of the Kuravar tribal community took issue with the way their community has been showed in the film.
Demanding that scenes in the film that portray the Kuravar community in a negative light be removed, about 10 to 12 members of the community, each with a green cloth tied over their mouth, protested in ankle-deep water in front of Suriya’s house on Thursday, amid the rains in Chennai.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Sampath, the general secretary of the youth wing of the Kallakurichi Malaikuravar Adivasi Nala Sangam, said, “At the beginning of the film, there is a scene that takes place outside a jail, where a member of the Kuravar community is assumed to be a thief by a policeman. This amounts to saying that Kuravars are thieves. To oppose this, we staged a non-violent protest in front of Suriya’s house.”
The protesters also questioned why the protagonist Rajakannu, who was a Kuravar in real life, has been portrayed as an Irular in the film. “While Rajakannu is shown as an Irular, Kuravars shown as thieves. The film has not depicted the truth,” said another member during the protest.
“While members of our community are struggling to find and hold respectable jobs, these scenes portray us in a wrong way. When someone from our community goes in search of opportunities, such scenes will affect them adversely. We will protest until the makers listen to our demands,” Sampath added.
The makers of Jai Bhim have not commented on this issue so far.