Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, September 24, 2013
From Page B1
He was able to get out of India on scholarship
in the 1920s. He came to America to study at
Columbia University. He then went to London to
attend the London School of Economics and earned
an economics degree and a law degree. In England
he went to the parliament and lobbied for untouch-
ables. He became one of the authors of the Indian
constitution. He put a lot of privileges for untouch-
ables in the constitution.
Under the constitution all the untouchables and
all other Dalit castes are protected but the Hindu
dominant party and Brahmin upper class is always
serving the interests of the people of the upper
class so he had to have this fight. In post-Inde-
pendence India, ruled by the upper-class people,
the untouchables are always pushed away from
the mainstream. These people are predominantly
living in the streets and in poverty.
Can you explain the title of your film,
Papilio Buddha is actually a type of butterfly,
the Malabar Banded Peacock. It is native to that
particular region, the Western Ghats, and it is an
endangered species, a protected species. The Papilio
Buddha is disappearing due to deforestation, the
use of pesticides, ecocide and corporate land-grab-
The connection to the movie is the American
lepidopterist coming to the area to catch butterflies.
In that area there is a butterfly smuggling racket.
The Western Ghats is one of the richest areas of
biodiversity in India but a lot of species are dis-
appearing. Just as this white butterfly hunter from
America is connected to what he is hunting, the
people of that area are also endangered and dis-
placed and victims of ecocide.
The Papilio Buddha is also a symbol of imper-
manence and of exuberance. One interesting but-
terfly myth is that of the Mothway myth of the
Navajo. In this story, a bisexual god named Begochi-
di is the leader of the "butterfly people" and was
able to service the sexual needs of both male and
female butterflies in the clan.
That aspect of sexual exuberance is reflected
in the homosexual relationship between the
protagonist, Shankaran, and the American
tourist, Jack. Why was it important for you to
Kerala is called "God s own country." It is filled
with waterfalls and backwaters and it is a tourist s
heaven. The tourists also came for the sex tourism
and you can see all kinds of people coming and
taking their partners from there. They are not nec-
essarily homosexual but the people will serve the
needs of the homosexuals also.
Kerala is a prudish place even though they [have]
all kinds of sexual orientation. On the surface
though, there is no deviation or perversion. In the
film I wanted to present it that way, that in Kerala,
all sexuality is in its full form; the people are enjoy-
ing and living that experience.
The film is infused with so many breathtaking
shots of nature. What role did the environment
play in this narrative?
The movie shot in the Western Ghats, one of
the last rainforests in southern Asia. It is a very
environmentally sensitive area but you can see in
the movie that the area is under severe ecocide by
the corporate companies and the mining companies.
In that area there is black-stone and red-stone
mining, which are the interests of the local political
upper class, and all of the displaced people are
This ecocide always goes hand in hand with a
kind of genocide.
Do you feel this movie will make
a difference to these issues?
In India there s a lot of censorship. The
movie is banned in India in its original
form. Even with many cuts it is difficult
to view it in India. Theatres don t take it.
No cable-TV distribution is allowed. They
block all types of distribution. The gov-
ernment makes it painful to be an artist.
But critics support us and the film was
generally well received by those able to
view it. It was a huge success [recently
at the] Montreal [Film Festival].
The film is important because it brings
all these human-rights violations and
racism issues to the fore. In India they
are practising racism publicly. We want
the caste system to be viewed as blatant
slavery and racism.
In T&T we are very multicultural and
also have these issues, but to a lesser
extent. Do you feel good about the
fact that many people around the
world can relate to these issues and
hopefully engage in meaningful reflec-
tion when they see your film?
As an artist I cannot make a pamphlet.
The film is my channel to air these things.
There is a lot of discussion and I m happy
Papilio Buddha---A symbol of exuberance
A scene from Papilio Buddha, the Jayan Cherian-directed movie about the Dalits (Untouchables) in India.
Papilio Buddha screens for a final
time on September 25 at 8 pm, at
the Little Carib Theatre. Tickets
are $30 and available at the Little
Carib box office.
Visit ttfilmfestival.com for more
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