Why Shyam Benegal? Even Jabbar's done a good job -- Mai


MUMBAI, December 5: It should have been made years ago; now it's finally ready for release. Noted director Jabbar Patel's film on the man who touched and changed the lives of many scheduled caste people, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, will be in theatres later this month. Five years of research and coordination, months of laborious work to get everything just right has gone into the effort to bring Ambedkar alive for generations that know him only through history books.

Not only Ambedkarites but the average Indian will watch the film with interest, says Patel, because Indians have become more politically conscious now than in the last few decades; also because Ambedkar's vision and logic is bound to attract crowds. Newsline spoke to some of the best known Ambedkarites to elicit their opinion on the film.

Savita `Mai' Ambedkar, widow

: The film almost shocked me with its real life depiction of my late husband's life and work. It is like someone has pushed back time and I'm watching it happen all over again. I know I had insisted on Shyam Benegal doing the film but Dr Jabbar Patel has done a terrific job. Mammooty too deserves praise for working so hard to re-create Ambedkar. A great deal of attention has been paid to portray my late husband with the right mannerisms, clothes and nuances. The film refuses to allow your attention to sway except for the time when you think how little has changed in the condition of Dalits even after all these years. The film has come at the right time when the lower castes find themselves marginalised once again due to the free market economy and globalisation. Ambedkar's views are so much more relevant now.

Prakash Ambedkar, grandson and leader of Republican Party of India

: I have still not seen the film but from what people tell me though great pains have been taken to recreate period details it is quite slow and boring. Trying to capture the essence of Babasaheb's struggle is not an easy task. There have been many books on him too and they too are not able to go deeper levels of his struggle with society to accept the Dalits as an integral part of the society.

Ramdas Athavale, RPI leader:

I don't know what to say about the film. It should have been made in a format which the larger multitude of illiterate Dalits could understand. While it is understandable that Ambedkar's thoughts and teachings need to be understood more by the upper class, I doubt whether the Dalits in the interiors will be able to sit through the film even if it is screened for free.

R S Gavai, oldest of RPI leaders:

The film should have been made in the folk art format so that even the rural population and the lower section of society would understand and sit through the film.

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