After five long years, my schedule allowed me to watch this intriguing movie, ‘Jay Bhim’, on Amazon Prime Video, which released on November 2, 2021.
I thought it would be based on the life of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, but it is not. It is based on the fight against injustice that happened in 1995-96. “Only justice is my weapon”, is the theme of this movie, which released nationwide in four languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. This movie has been made for everyone – including cops, lawyers, jurists, government prosecutors, patriots, film lovers, etc.
The film touches on the sensitive topic of injustice against people who belong to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes. Our country has an unfortunate tendency to discriminate, exploit and show bias towards the members of such communities, and that is exactly what the movie is about. It is based on true events.
The movie reminded me of an incident that took place in Gujarat around 1994-95. I had served as a DySP SC/ST cell and witnessed the torture undergone by the members of the local tribes. The local MLA had ordered Halol area’s PSI to pressure the adivasi father-son duo to take each other’s private parts in their mouths, to make them speak the truth faster. When I requested the SP to take severe action against this PSI under Atrocity Act, Clause 4, the concerned policeman was just given mild punishment, which meant his actions were encouraged.
Another episode involved a cop not making out the correct case of gangrape against an adivasi woman, and registering it as a case of minor molestation instead. Again, no action was taken.
When I watched this movie, it reminded me of the heinous acts I witnessed. Everyone, including village heads, reputed chiefs, senior police officials, judges, government lawyers, politicians, etc. are responsible for these kinds of events.
Events like these have happened in Gujarat. In 2012, during September, there was an open firing in Thangadh village of Surendranagar town wherein three people were killed. They were Pankaj Amarsinh Sumra (26); Mehul Valjubhai Rathod (16); and Prakash Babubhai Parmar (15); and their families have still not received justice.
Jay Bhim contains many scenes that will rivet viewers, showing how there is systemic discrimination against Dalits at every level. Apart from custodial torture and caste injustice, the film touches on subjects like illiteracy, untouchability and rich-poor categorization.
When I saw this movie in theatre, I was satisfied that it has depicted the reality of what Dalits face today, and has helped to ensure that a wider audience is made aware of it. The situation is the same in Gujarat even today, with the police differentiating people by caste for years now. They use the lower castes for their personal benefit and because they are easy to target.
When no strong action is taken against this DGP, he says, “We do this because we cannot let our government down!” The question is why will government be defamed if poor Dalits get justice?
There are two scenes in the movie that stand out. The first is where advocate Chandra (Suriya) questions, “Which caste doesn’t have thieves?” and the second in which the SP says, “Don’t play politics by telling thieves are a separate tribe.”
Finally, in the movie, Rajkannu dies of the torture happened to him in custody. To destroy evidence, his corpse is thrown on a highway to show it as an accident. IGP Perumalsamy (Prakash Raj) brings the truth to the court. It is shown that if the police do their work properly, then people will get the deserved justice. But because the police don’t help, innocents must go through so much to get to the truth.
Again, such incidents have happened in Gujarat as well. There are two events to focus on: When IGP Satish Verma brought out the truth of Ishrat Jahan case by standing up against the government, he wasn’t spared. Similarly in 2002, going against the government, ADGP R. B. Shrikumar brought out the truth of the matter in the Gujarat inter-communal riots and was also tortured by officials. The sad part is that people kept quiet and thereby supported the government’s injustice.
Jay Bhim – the story
Sengeni (Lijomol Jose) is a pregnant lady whose husband Rajkannu (K Manikandan) is wrongly accused of theft. He is taken into police custody, but then goes missing. Advocate Chandra (Suriya), who practices in the high court, helps Sengeni get justice.