CULTURAL MINORITIES AND THE PANOPTIC GAZE: A STUDY OF THE (MIS)REPRESENTATION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES IN MALAYALAM FILMS
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This paper explores the patterns of the representation of Adivasis or aboriginals – known as ‘tribals’ in common parlance – in Malayalam language films. Film as a medium of representation is continuously engaged in constructing images and thus the process becomes an ideological enterprise contributing to the relentless practice of defining and redefining the society and its various components in terms of several binaries. The film industry of Kerala, a southern state of India, is affluent and more influential than other art forms and production. Though the tribal population of Kerala is around 400 thousand and they belong to as many as 43 subgroups, they are underrepresented in films and that too is in a stereotypical manner. These groups are considered to be largely distinct with each tribal group identifying themselves with their own mythologies, tales of origin, and distinctive religious and ritualistic practices. This paper critically analyses the politics of representation using the example of tribals in Malayalam films as it has evolved over the past decades and attempts to trace a whole gamut of aesthetic and ethical issues at stake.
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