Tha Se Gnanavel’s phone has been ringing non-stop ever since his movie Jai Bhim started streaming on Amazon Prime Video on November 2. “I thought people would say this is a good film, but the response has been far more than expected,” Gnanavel told Scroll.in. “The film has now has led to a discussion. In a sense a circle has been completed.”
Jai Bhim is designed to provoke a debate. Gnanavel’s screenplay closely follows BR Ambedkar’s message “Educate, agitate, organise.” The Tamil film combines the conventions of the social justice melodrama, the detective thriller and the legal drama to reveal how power structures can hurt those they are meant to protect.
Jai Bhim is based on an actual case from 1993. The movie highlights the attempts of an activist-lawyer to obtain justice for a tribal woman whose husband and two relatives have gone missing. The men have been falsely accused of theft.
Rather than conducting a proper investigation, the police attempt to prove their case the usual way: they mercilessly beat up the prisoners and then claim that they have escaped from custody.
The harrowing scenes of custodial torture and the gradual unpeeling of the police’s attempts to cover their tracks indicate…