If you look at it objectively, ‘Jai Bhim’ is not such a great film. It has average camera work, average acting, no intensity of emotion or passion, just an average matter-of-factly courtroom drama. Why then it has been so appreciated?
In a time like these, when everyone around is so sensitive about his/her identity, caste and religion, this film talks about the downtrodden in plain manner without any histrionics, any superlative emotions, just as law should see us all.
But presenting a situation as is, is also very difficult in today’s trying times, especially for various arts and literature where the freedom of ‘creative license’ is an integral part of the creative process. Without it any art or literature fails to grow.
This very freedom is being gradually snatched away. We are living in these surreal times of advertisements being withdrawn, films being censored or censured, film personalities being heckled, stand-up comedians and poets being hauled up for jokes! Amid all this, if a film is made on how low caste tribals are tortured and are deprived of their basic rights, it is a compliment in itself!
Moreover, the script of the film is cleverly written, not glorifying the protagonist who goes out of his way to get justice for a deprived woman. The actors look their part. Lijomol Jose is amazing in the role of the tribal woman in search of her husband who goes missing from a jail. The film doesn’t even glorify her fight, but the script very effectively presents her perseverance, and the vicious circle of corruption, the way upper caste treats the lower caste people and how it all forces the most deprived to suffer the most.
The story is based on true events and presented in a crisp manner. with skillful editing, the story unfolds in a gripping way. It leaves tears in the eyes, though no such emotionally charged interaction takes place. It leaves you with a pang in the heart, and a deep feeling of shame that though the story is based on events that took place in the 90s, the situation hasn’t changed much on the ground even today with so many news stories about Dalits being tortured and oppressed occupying a considerable place of our newspapers and websites.
Without preaching, without any loud noise, ‘Jai Bhim’ haunts our sensibilities and should actually be a message to all those who uselessly keep harping on their sentiments ‘being hurt’; a message that we should first pay attention to those among us whom we have pushed on the fringes of existence, from where we can’t even hear their cries for bare survival.
Kudos to Suriya for making a film like this in these times!