Periyar as a Biopic: Star Persona, Historical Events, and Politics
Abstract

Abstract:

This essay engages with the biographical picture Periyar (2007) to analyze how history is represented through the life of one of the most significant revolutionary figures in Indian politics of the last century. It explores the representation of Periyar through the persona of Sathyaraj, a leading star of Tamil cinema, and analyzes the episodic structure of the film to study the strength and weaknesses of making a biopic on the life and times of an iconic leader for a mainstream audience. On the one hand, such a project entails addressing all the significant events along with the key figures who played a major role in Periyar's revolutionary politics of dismantling caste and religion. On the other, the lengthy storyline based on Periyar's eventful life disallows the time for reflection and the focus on the deeper philosophy of Periyar's radicalism, for instance, his investment in public drama as a theater of protest.