There are around a lakh of members from Puthirai Vannar community living in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. Their forced-occupation is to wash clothes of other Dalits, the dead and the menstruating women.
“I have grown up listening to stories of my village female deities who were once ordinary women but had extraordinary lives. Most of these goddesses were killed by injustice and hence were worshipped in order to save the village from their wrath. These legends of social suppression are always a great learning material to understand my roots and evolution of the society I live in. I started my research, traced down the community, read all the material available, did hours and hours of interviews, stayed with them for months together in the remote villages of south Tamil Nadu and realised the script with their active inputs and participation. Maadathy is my attempt to introspect what is it being an unseeable slave woman, living the lowest among the lowest, as a victim to both patriarchy and caste system,” says Leena.
But things went awry when the film was submitted for certification. The CBFC refused to certify the film and proposed a number of cuts in the film. “CBFC has questioned the portrayal and the language I have used in the film. They wanted me to remove those portions. But why should I? The language in the film is the language spoken by the people; I cannot bring any changes to that. As a filmmaker, who adores the craft, I wanted to do an authentic portrayal of the community without any restrictions. CBFC is just a certification board — they cannot impose cuts,” shares the director.
Leena asked for ‘A’ certification and she says that there are no rules to impose cuts in a film when asked for “A” certification. She has now appealed at the Tribunal and is waiting for a positive response.