Mumbai: Anubhav Sinha's hard-hitting new film, "Article 15", takes an unflinching look at caste discrimination and is earning good numbers at the box office. The filmmaker said his motive was to raise questions in the audience's mind as they left the theatres so that they become more aware of the reality.
"Even in newspapers, such incidents are published in the inside pages and projected in a less prominent manner. I hope people read them and take action -- if not anything, just by changing (their) behaviour towards the people who work for them. That is precisely the reason why I depicted the manhole scavenging scene so elaborately, with a slow-motion shot," Anubhav told IANS.
The filmmaker said although there is always a lot of talk denouncing discrimination, people are yet to turn their words into action.
"We have conditioned them (people from the lower castes) not to demand respect and, for ages, they never asked for it. Since they do not ask for it, we do not bother about our behaviour towards them, which is disrespectful," explained Anubhav.
"They are not well dressed because they have to do the dirty job for us. If they stop working for a day or two, you will feel miserable with all the stink and dirt!" he added.
"Article 15" features Ayushmann Khurrana along with Isha Talwar, Sayani Gupta, Kumud Mishra and Manoj Pahwa.
Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub plays a Dalit leader named Nishad in the film.
The character of Nishad is killed in the end, because he was protesting against discrimination.
Asked why Nishad's character was killed, the director replied: "I wanted the audience to miss him, to cry for him and to ask why did he have to die? People like Nishad are killed in our society. Don't we know how Rohith Vemula died? Kanhaiya Kumar is attacked, too. That is the truth."
"We, as a society, are killing voices like Nishad that ask the right questions and try to represent people of the backward castes. We are killing them so that such people can remain backwards," Anubhav added.
Rohith Vemula was a PhD student from Hyderabad University and an active member of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA). Hailing from an OBC community, he had condemned the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP) protest against a Delhi University screening of the controversial documentary film, Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai. The film dissects the causes and aftermath of the September 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots through the eyes of local people.
Vemula committed suicide on January 17, 2016, after he was suspended by the university.
Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in 2016 by Delhi Police on a sedition charge.