Questioning the Imagined Identities: (Re)thinking Stereotypes in ‘Usthad Hotel’ and ‘Thattathin Marayathu’

It is high time to revisit how Malayalam cinema has discursively formulated and circulated certain ideologies by which communities such as Muslims and Dalits are stereotyped and (mis)represented in the context of the emergent communal divides, cultural exchanges and social reorganizations happening in Kerala. Malayalam Cinema, particularly mainstream commercial cinema, constructs and propagate certain stereotypical images of Muslims as people of repressed sexual desires, as people of terrorist lineages, as money minded and food crazy people. The paper analyses films such as Usthad Hotel (2012) and Thattathin Marayathu (2012) as representative texts that carry this ongoing ideological victimisation. Using theoretical inputs from Ella Shohat and Sherene Razack, the paper explores dominant ideologies such as Caste, Hindutva and Islamophobia in these films that determine the visual grammar and the consequent victimisations of the marginalised and the ‘precarious identities’ in the Malayalam filmscape.

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