There are two narratives in India. One is the Aryan narrative and the other non-Aryan narrative. Under the Aryan narrative, words like Asur, Daitya, Rakshas are vilified as they are portrayed as barbarian, uncivilised, ugly people, who are after Aryan women and, therefore, trying to conquer the “devlok” which is shown in films like Bahubali, Indian movies or TV serials in general.
The movie Asuran talks about the non-Aryan narrative, which is just the opposite, i.e. Asuran is a farmer toiling hard on the farm and has a family. The proletariat of Marx is this “Asuran” and no one else in India, but unfortunately, the Brahmanical Indian communists will never realise it.
The film also moves away from the usual Brahmin vs Dalit narrative, as shown by “savarna” filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Anubhav Sinha, and sheds light on the fierce struggle between upper-Shudras vs Ati-Shudras, i.e. upper OBCs and SCs. That struggle is pretty evident in Kunbi vs Mahar, Maratha vs Mahars, Gujjar vs Dalits or Khatri Jats vs Ravi Das Jats.
One of the most prominent examples is the Khairlanji Massacre which sends chills down the spine even if one reads that incident’s account. This is naturally a failure of Congress, communists and so-called progressives who ignored the cultural angle because of which OBCs have become the biggest arm twisting force for the ruling “savarnas” even when the OBCs are not even considered Hindus.
The film makes a big hole in the merit argument as it is clearly shown that in a society like India, which stands on inequality, “merit does not count”. For example, Narasimhan wants to build a factory on his ancestral land, which is the whole village. Did Narasimhan and his ancestors gain it through hard work or due to their caste position?
The film also shows the various harassment techniques employed by upper-Shudras like Narasimhan to usurp the land of Ati-Shudras like Sivasamy. Sivasamy’s elder son Murugan represents Dalit assertion and reminds of tit-for-tat “Dalit Panthers” of the 1970s. Naturally, Sivasamy’s younger son Chidambaram admires his brother’s courage rather than his father. He very easily bows down to upper OBC dominated village panchayats and police until he finds out that his father is not what he thinks.
Sivasamy’s wife and fiancee reflect the aesthetic sense of the Asuras as the women are black, hot-tempered, hard-working, rustic and sexually very proactive, which is a far cry from the regressive “Preeti” of Kabir Singh.
Asuran portrays these women as dignified people, unlike mere sex objects or flag bearers of casteism, emotional fools, or tragedy queens with absolutely no physical or mental work except romancing the “savarna” brahmin hero in all the films. Chidambaram taking on Narasimhan in his backyard is similar to young Shivaji ridiculing the mighty Aurangzeb in his courtyard.
Last but not least, Sivasamy is a man who has seen it all, and that is why he is the way he is. He has seen his entire family burnt alive just because of the fair demand for equal land distribution. Still, today there are many landless farmers in Maharashtra and India, especially among SCs, STs and lower OBCs, NTs, DNTs. The film clearly shows how the poor upper Shudra quickly dons his fake caste pride the moment he is no longer poor.
Similarly, the rich and influential upper Shudra’s fake closeness and fake mercifulness are also revealed when they come to his caste men. The plight of communists is also shown as they are portrayed as sincere but ineffective due to their cultural ignorance. Naturally, the communist is a Brahmin here.
Asuran, along with films like Kaala, is a milestone in contemporary cinema. It is wonderful how the narrative, aesthetic sense is completely inversed in these films. Characters like Sivasamy have been absent from the Indian film scenario for decades. They were relegated as meek, tragic characters with no larger-than-life quality, as shown in the so-called Brahmanical parallel cinema and so-called Brahmanical commercial cinema.
That day is not far when India will have its Black Panther moment.