Produced by Onir, Chauranga hits theatres on Friday, January 8.(YouTube Grab)
Produced by Onir, Chauranga hits theatres on Friday, January 8.(YouTube Grab)

Chauranga review: A strong voice against caste barriers

With a brilliant theme, a narrative structure that flows, and social relevance that hooks the viewer, Chauranga makes for a powerful watch.
By Rohit Vats | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 07, 2016 02:36 PM IST

Chauranga
Director:
Bikas Ranjan Mishra
Cast: Sanjay Suri, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Soham Maitra, Riddhi Sen
Rating: 4/5

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels; it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant. Or so says Salvador Dali.

If you applied Dali’s quote to the context of ‘representation of caste in the Hindi film industry’, how many Bollywood films based on the caste divide in society are actually true?

You may name a few like Achhut Kanya (1936), Sujata (1959), Ankur (1974), Dacait (1987), Bandit Queen (1994) and the more recent Aarakshan (2011). But not all of them actually delve into the sordid details of caste division. In fact, the Hindi film industry is almost oblivious to untouchables.

Our films and most of their audience seem happy with upper caste Hindu heroes who achieve the unthinkable. Even the formidable Khans keep playing a Raj, Rahul, Prem or Ajay as treading the caste territory is dangerous business, almost literally.

Director Bikas poses with the cast of his film Chauranga.
Director Bikas poses with the cast of his film Chauranga.

However, Bikas Ranjan Mishra’s Chauranga has no qualms in showing it like it is and tells the tale of two Dalit brothers. Yes, it also tells of a mostly upper caste milieu and a fragile woman’s indomitable spirit, but the movie is more than this.

Bajrangi (Riddhi Sen) can go to school because Dhaval (Sanjay Suri), a village strongman, pays his school fees. However, Bajrangi’s younger brother Santu (Soham Maitra) can’t. Hope bubbles considering the boys’ mother Dhaniya (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is Dhaval’s mistress. As a pig breeder, Dhaniya has no other means to educate her children.

Other characters like Dhaval’s meek and obedient wife (Arpita Pal) and adolescent daughter Mona (Ena Saha) support the plot but are mute spectators. Priest Pandey Baba (Dhritiman Chatterjee) adds to the sordid context with his sexual fantasies.

Mishra employs crafty directorial techniques to keep the movie grounded yet intangible. The opening sequence of a young box beaten up for his lunch box by two upper caste bullies is relatable. At the same time, we are not told which time period the film is set in.

If you’re looking for a clue, Salman Khan is often referred to as a metaphor of the escapist fantasy mainstream Bollywood feeds us, including footage from Dabangg (2010). At the same time, mobile phones are conspicuously absent.

But it is the interesting character curves that hook one to the plausibility of the story. Dhaval appears like he is in love with Dhaniya, at least temporarily. He funds her child’s education and looks benevolent from the outset. Yet he is as evil as can be. This duality gives a great touch to Sanjay Suri’s character.

Read: Chauranga deserves a National Award, says producer Onir

What works even better for the movie is the politics that mould the characters. The village has a democratically elected council, but one that works under Dhaval’s thumb. Discontent is brewing among the lower caste community of the area which forms the majority. The seeds are sown for an uprising.

A constant focus on the atrocities faced by the marginalized makes Chauranga a special film. It’s the process of finding a solution by magnifying the ugliness in a contemporary light that strikes a chord and marks Mishra’s cinematic skills.

Watch Chauranga trailer

With a brilliant theme, a narrative structure that flows, and social relevance that hooks the viewer, Chauranga makes for a powerful watch.

The writer tweets @nawabjha.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Parineeti Chopra in The Girl On The Train.
Parineeti Chopra in The Girl On The Train.

The Girl On The Train: Parineeti turns a singer, shares new song Matlabi Yariyan

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:57 PM IST
  • Parineeti Chopra shared a new song - Matlabi Yariyan - from her upcoming film, The Girl On The Train. The actor has sung the soulful ballad. Watch here.
Close
Sara Ali Khan and Amrita Singh at the airport.(Varinder Chawla)
Sara Ali Khan and Amrita Singh at the airport.(Varinder Chawla)

Sara Ali Khan, mom Amrita ace airport look, twin in green ethnic wear

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:48 PM IST
  • Sara Ali Khan and her mother Amrita Singh were seen twinning in green at Mumbai airport on Thursday. See their pictures here.
Close
Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao in Kai Po Che!
Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao in Kai Po Che!

Sushant, Rajkummar, Amit are 'brothers for life' in unseen video from Kai Po Che

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:17 PM IST
On the eight-year anniversary of Kai Po Che!, director Abhishek Kapoor shared a behind-the-scenes video showing the camaraderie between Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh.
Close
Priya Prakash Varrier falls on her back in a BTS video from her movie Check.
Priya Prakash Varrier falls on her back in a BTS video from her movie Check.

Priya Prakash Varrier falls on her back in the wink of an eye, watch video

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 03:09 PM IST
  • Priya Prakash Varrier shared a BTS video from her movie Check. The actor tried taking a leap of faith and hoping to land on Nithiin's back while shooting for a scene but fell down.
Close
Kareena Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore are very close to each other.
Kareena Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore are very close to each other.

When Sharmila said Kareena was ‘just like my children’ when Mansoor was unwell

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 02:54 PM IST
  • Sharmila Tagore had once talked about how Kareena Kapoor had her birthday when Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was hospitalised but chose not to draw attention towards herself.
Close
John Abraham as Amartya Rao in Mumbai Saga.
John Abraham as Amartya Rao in Mumbai Saga.

Mumbai Saga trailer: Watch John, Emraan battle it out on Mumbai streets

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 02:28 PM IST
  • Mumbai Saga trailer has John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi locking horns with Mumbai streets as the arena. Watch the trailer here.
Close
Aaliyah Kashyap was subjected to hateful comments on her recent post.
Aaliyah Kashyap was subjected to hateful comments on her recent post.

Aaliyah says she got rape threats for lingerie shoot: Never felt more frightened

UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 02:23 PM IST
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's daughter Aaliyah Kashyap has revealed how she was subjected to the 'most vile, degrading and disgusting comments' on social media after her lingerie photoshoot.
Close
Salman Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia D'Souza, Bobby Deol, Shraddha Kapoor, Govinda and many more pose for a 'mega selfie'.
Salman Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia D'Souza, Bobby Deol, Shraddha Kapoor, Govinda and many more pose for a 'mega selfie'.

Salman Khan, Govinda, Shraddha Kapoor and more pose for 'mega selfie'

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:58 PM IST
  • Salman Khan took to Instagram and Twitter to share a 'mega selfie' from the sets of the Indian Pro Music League. The star-studded photo featured Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia D'Souza, Bobby Deol, Shraddha Kapoor, Govinda, Mika Singh, Rajkummar Rao, Karan Wahi, Javed Ali and many more.
Close
Pulkit Samrat with girlfriend, actor Kriti Kharbanda.
Pulkit Samrat with girlfriend, actor Kriti Kharbanda.

Pulkit Samrat follows girlfriend Kriti Kharbanda's beauty advice, see her reply

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:35 PM IST
  • Pulkit Samrat shared a funny picture of himself and his beauty regimen and credited girlfriend Kriti Kharbanda for it. See her response here.
Close
Hindi scholar and lyricist Santosh Anand seen during the Saraswat Samman 2020-21 ceremony on the occasion of 140th birth anniversary of Munshi Prem Chand at Delhi Vidhan Sabha, in New Delhi, India on July 31, 2020. Eight Hindi litterateurs were honoured for their contribution in the field of language, literature and culture. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Hindi scholar and lyricist Santosh Anand seen during the Saraswat Samman 2020-21 ceremony on the occasion of 140th birth anniversary of Munshi Prem Chand at Delhi Vidhan Sabha, in New Delhi, India on July 31, 2020. Eight Hindi litterateurs were honoured for their contribution in the field of language, literature and culture. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

I have never asked for money and I never will: Santosh Anand

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:30 PM IST
The senior lyricist says he just wants respect, referring to the viral video, where singer Neha Kakkar offered five lakhs rupees to him as a gift, which led to people thinking that he needed financial help
Close
BTS singer V and Jungkook talk about their mixtapes.
BTS singer V and Jungkook talk about their mixtapes.

BTS ARMY goes gaga as V and Jungkook discuss KTH1 and JJK1 mixtapes

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:15 PM IST
  • BTS singer V confirmed that his mixtape would feature 13 songs. This revelation has left the fandom, ARMY, in an emotional state.
Close
Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut during Krrish 3 promotions.
Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut during Krrish 3 promotions.

Hrithik Roshan to record statement against Kangana Ranaut tomorrow

ANI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 01:04 PM IST
Hrithik Roshan will have to appear before the Mumbai crime branch on Saturday to record his statement in a case he registered against Kangana Ranaut in 2016.
Close
Anubhav Sinha has been shooting for ANEK in the North-East.
Anubhav Sinha has been shooting for ANEK in the North-East.

Anubhav Sinha shares picture from ANEK shoot, calls it 'toughest' film so far

ANI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 12:56 PM IST
Anubhav Sinha seems to have suffered sunburns while shooting for ANEK in Assam. The film stars Ayushmann Khurrana in the lead role.
Close
Actor Sonu Sood emerged as a messiah figure for migrant labourers in the Covid 19 lockdown in 2020.(HT_PRINT)
Actor Sonu Sood emerged as a messiah figure for migrant labourers in the Covid 19 lockdown in 2020.(HT_PRINT)

Sonu Sood gets handpumps installed in a Jhansi village

ANI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 12:43 PM IST
Sonu Sood said the installation of handpumps in a Jhansi village was an exciting sight and he might will also go one day and drink some water from those handpumps.
Close
Sidharth Shukla clarifies wedding rumours.
Sidharth Shukla clarifies wedding rumours.

Sidharth Shukla clarifies rumours of his marriage to Shehnaaz Gill

PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 12:42 PM IST
  • Sidharth Shukla has long been rumoured to be dating Shehnaaz Gill. Fresh rumours suggest that the two have tied the knot. Sidharth has now clarified his marital status.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP