Some Dalit activists, however, have said that they will wait and watch if the show accurately presents BR Ambedkar’s politics.

A group of villagers were seen standing at a junction in a village near Mana Ambedkar hoardingBy Arrangement
news Social Monday, September 21, 2020 - 18:59

A section of Telugu social media is abuzz with updates on ‘Mana Ambedkar’, an upcoming TV serial on Zee Telugu. The social drama will feature the life and struggles of anti-caste revolutionary and the architect of modern India, BR Ambedkar.

Rayakal, a tiny village in Telangana’s Sangareddy district with a population of over 3,000 woke up on Monday to see a life-size hoarding, which welcomingly urges the people to watch the ‘Mana Ambedkar’ serial daily to know about the life and struggles of Ambedkar. The people behind the hoarding are from the Pragati Yuva Shakti Students Association. The gorup consists over 20 Dalit youth who are first-generation graduates. 

The decorated hoarding was unveiled on Monday. 

“The caste system is the demon that obstructs you in all walks of life, whichever way you head. Unless you annihilate it, you can never bring social and political transformation,” reads the hoarding.

This act is being seen as the enthusiasm and the interest of a new generation in seeing their leader’s story on a popular small screen; there is also a reason behind it. 

When TNM reached out to Ramakanth Gaini, a young graduate behind the initiative, he said that they erected the hoarding to create awareness among people.

He said, “Many people, including our parents don't really know the struggle and life of Ambedkar. This serial may somehow bring them into life. It is the first time that there is an attempt to portray his life through visual media.”

When asked about ‘representation’ of Ambedkar’s ideas in the serial, Ramakanth said “there will be discussion even in that case.” 

Apart from one or two dubbed movies, one in which Malayalam actor Mammootty plays the role of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, there have not been many attempts to show the life of Ambedkar in Telugu popular culture.

Even the present Mana Ambedkar serial is a dubbed version of the Marathi serial Mahamanvachi Gauravgatha. It has also been dubbed into Kannada and is being telecasted.

In Mana Ambedkar, actor Sagar Deshmukh plays the titular role. 

The serial’s trailers and title song suggest that it will showcase the life of the leader from a young child who faces untouchability to becoming the architect of the Indian Constitution.

However, Ambedkarite activists and thinkers are seeing this as something that needs to be observed with ‘right consciousness’. 

Speaking about the celebratory enthusiasm among people, mainly those hailing from Dalit backgrounds, Sudarshan Balaboyina, activist and Assistant Professor in Political Science at Osmania University, said, “There are two things happening — while a section is welcoming and celebrating the coming of the serial, another section is quite conscious about what they show in it. The representation of Ambedkar's life depends on the ideological leanings of the makers.”

He further said, “The celebration and cheering is happening because of the constant neglect of Ambedkar and his struggles in popular media and movies. However, either way, there will be a discussion if they depict or represent him as per their politics and interests.”

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