“Brahmins, Thakur, Shudras… These castes are to categorise men. Women are different. They are beneath them all.”
These lines from Sonchiriya stayed with me as I watched Leena Manimekalai’s Maadathy. A haunting story of societal injustice, there’s a lot to unpack in this film. First, the gender. The free-spirited protagonist, Yosana, is an adolescent girl firmly held by the chains of patriarchy. Then there’s caste. The film’s narrative emerges from the collective experiences of the Puthirai Vannar community from Tirunelveli. They are often referred to as the ‘Dalits of the Dalits’ and thought ‘unseeable’. This means Yosana is at the absolute bottom of the social hierarchy ladder. Maadathy is important on several counts: one, it documents and platforms the pain in these hitherto ‘invisible’ stories. And second, it once again reminds us why feminism is incomplete without intersectionality.