Sunday 28 August 2022


28 August 2022

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam



[In the 1960s, most Tamil films portrayed people as being either rich or poor. The conflict between the two classes often formed the backdrop for the plot. There wasn’t much of a concept of the middle class. It was KB who first made films about the middle class, for the middle class.]  K. Balachander: The Middle-Class Maestro by S Srinivasan at

To K Balachander, they were the ‘rich middle class’.

Writer Uditha Devapriya presents their parallels in Protests as follows:

[The shibboleths that Colombo’s self-indulgent middle-classes lavish on the protests, or their memories of the protests at Gotagogama – that ‘Gotagogama is not a place, but a people’, or that ‘Gotagogama will live on!’ – should not blind one to the inextricable fact that these classes have exhausted their radicalism, or what little of it they possessed. This is why, no one among them answered Sarath Fonseka’s call to come to the streets on 9 August. This is also why, none of them seem to be as agitated as one would have imagined them to be vis-à-vis the sweeping arrests being made of student leaders like Wasantha Mudalige. Again, this should not surprise anyone, least of all the New Left student leaders themselves.] A Class Analysis of the Aragalaya at

The key to Balachander’s success was that he was middle class and his films were  about the middle class, for the middle class

Likewise, Gandhi became labourer class and he became a natural part of them.

Uditha concludes as follows:

[It is utterly predictable, what is happening at present. As sweeping protests are being made, Colombo’s middle-classes have retuned home, indulging in their pastimes, heaping praise on the new government, and basically getting on with their lives. Like most anti-government protests, the Gotagogama movement succeeded in concealing the fundamental class rifts within it – between the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry, and the urban workers – until the last hour. The rupture began to emerge on 13 July, only to finally erupt on 20 July. That not even Ranil Wickremesinghe’s crackdown on 22 July could resolve this rupture, tells us many things. More than anything else, it tells us about the lack of a radical political consciousness within the middle-classes. Whatever way you look at it, this remains as inescapable a fact as ever. The (student-led) New Left would do well to record it for the future.]

In politics, Ranil also is middle-class. Hence the rich were not interested in him and the poor did not identify with him after Premadasa separated from the UNP. He did a Balachander about whom the following was reported:

[He thought long and hard about his objectives. “That day, I decided I will never associate myself with great stars. I wanted my own views, my own
perspective to come out in the movies.

That to me was the soul power which elevated Ranil to the position of leading the rich middle class Sri Lankan community. They are rich because they are not class-conscious. Let’s not forget Ranil’s contribution as an audience, to Indian film industry in which K Balachander is an elder.

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