The young Tamil filmmaker who questioned the caste hierarchy and made films about caste politics, Pa. Ranjith, courted controversy in a recent public talk in Thanjavur, the cradle of Tamil culture and capital of the mighty Chozha empire.
While addressing the press on a public platform, the Pariyerum Perumal director remarked causticly the reign of Raja Raja Chozha is widely known as the ‘Golden Age of Tamil Country,’ but it was the darkest age in the region. Ranjith further continued with his frontal attack, saying Raja Raja, with the Brahmanical support, snatched away lands from the backward classes and gave them as gifts to thousands of priests.
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Pa. Ranjith stated, “Many people claim Raja Raja himself belonged to the Paraiyar caste, but he need not be from my caste so that I can trumpet about him being from a backward community. Raja Raja was the one who started caste oppression in his reign by giving utmost importance to the upper caste (sic.)”
The comments garnered widespread resentment and online revolts by many Tamil groups, terming Ranjith as a lunatic who lost his senses and a blot on Tamil culture.
A separate hashtag started by Tamil groups is trending now, with the title #PrayForMentalRanjith.
The timing of these remarks is more significant as Mani Ratnam is planning his ambitious project, Ponniyin Selvan, which is the story of the rise of Raja Raja Chozha.