Kaatera is an unusually good Kannada film that talks about caste discrimination, albeit on a surface level. Any film that brings up the subject of caste discrimination and how rampant it still is in many parts of south India needs to be appreciated. Kaatera not only speaks about the discrimination but also the efforts of the landlord to kill the morale of the village, which are the core reasons behind the villagers either killing themselves or becoming destitute.
Who Were The Villagers Waiting For?
The film opens in the year 1989, and the villagers were collecting money to make sure the person who was wronged many years ago could come back for the village festival. One of the prominent faces of the village, Mahadevanna, wanted to make sure his brother-in-law would make it back to town, claiming the title he won for the village festival many years ago. They took the help of a famous lawyer in the most unorthodox manner, which led to the said man receiving parole for a few days.
A constable was hired to make sure the man did not run away. The name of the man has not been revealed yet. As he makes his appearance, the viewers are introduced to a quiet aged man who has no energy left to fight or argue with anyone. The said man and the police officer were on their way to his village when they were attacked by a large group of armed men. The elderly man and the constable barely escape, but he reveals himself to be Kaatera and recollects the story of his life and the reason behind his jail time.
What Did The Forensic Team Find During Their Excavation?
Around the same time, a forensic team had come across a bunch of skeletons in an area near the village of Bheemanahalli. As the digging progressed, the forensic doctor and her team came across 107 skeletons of people who had been brutally butchered, as per her investigation. There were many injuries, she could conclude from her investigation, and it seemed a sharp object was used to kill everyone in the same manner. The police officers were not keen on further investigation into the root cause of the crime that occurred twenty years ago. They requested the lead forensic doctor write off all deaths as being of natural causes, but the officer refused to do so. She wanted to get to the bottom of this incident, which was never considered seriously by the police officer two decades ago.
Who Was Kaatera?
Kaatera was the most revered blacksmith in the village, and he was surrounded by people who worked on the farms of two despicable landlords. These workers and the landlords purchased tools required for farming and other tiling work from Kaatera. He was aware of the caste-based discrimination happening around him and was brainwashed into believing the hierarchy maintained by society was to be followed. He was someone from the lower caste and was treated as such by the landlords as well as the brahmins of the town. Prabha was the daughter of the most educated brahmin in town, and she had been in love with Kaatera since childhood. As adults, he was aware of the feelings she harbored for him, but knew they could never unite in matrimony because of their caste. Prabha, being an educated woman, was not worried about how society would perceive her because she looked at Kaatera as a human and not as someone who belonged to a particular group of people that were conditioned to not mingle with the people who belong to the upper caste.
Were Devaraya And Kale Gowda The Antagonists?
Devaraya and Kale Gowd, the landlords who did not treat their farmers and workers right and years after independence, the workers had to surrender their grain as taxes to them. The landlords were cruel, and they always wanted to suppress the villagers and their demands. The landlords and their men were known to be harassing women across the village, which further antagonized Kaatera and other men who wanted to put an end to the menace. Kaatera was a strong man, and he partially blinded Devaraya’s henchman. Devaraya and Kale Gowda themselves had an enmity going on, but their hatred for Kaatera united them. Kaatera took part in the ‘Hole Mari’ festival and he won despite being thrown several obstacles meant to disrupt his pace.
How Would The Land Reforms Change The Lives Of The Villagers?
Prabha loved the village she was raised in, and she wanted to work for the welfare of the villagers as long as she could. She was one of the only few educated girls in town and remained on the frontlines and helped the villagers understand the changes that were made by the government for the wellbeing of the farmers. She was the first to inform the villagers about the land reforms of 1951 that were implemented for the sake of the farmers, who are treated like slaves and are exploited nonstop by the landlords.
The landlords were worried that their bribes would be of no use to any of the state ministers or MLAs as the diktat had come from the center. The central government was keen on making the economy very farmer-friendly. The villagers were excited about the reforms that would be implemented all around the country. To their horror, the landlords were not keen on implementing the reforms as they did not favor them. Kaatera gathered the village and threatened them into implementing the reforms, saying they would not think twice before rising to revolt against the landlords. These landlords and their ancestors have harassed men and women whom they consider to be beneath them for centuries. This generation was not very different from their ancestors, but the workers and the farmers were tired of being treated like second-class citizens in their own land and country.
Does Prabha Leave Her Family For Kaatera?
Prabha’s marriage was fixed without her consent, and on the way to one of the rituals, Kaatera stopped the procession and requested Prabha’s hand in marriage. Kaatera’s family was humiliated, but Prabha chose to take her lover’s side because she had been in love with Kaatera since childhood. Her father, the learned man in town, disowned her from the family and refused to believe she was alive and happy with the man of her choice.
Why Was Kaatera In Prison?
Kaatera was arrested on false charges of smuggling sandalwood. The police worked under the orders of Deveraya and Kala Gowda because they did not want him to cause a revolution in town that would gain traction. Kaatera was brutally injured by the police. The arrest was carried out to make the villagers vulnerable, as they were helpless without the might and strength of Kaatera, who would help them at any given moment. Kaatera was out in no time, and he took on the responsibility of safeguarding the village from the nuisance created by landlords and their henchmen.
Did Kaatera Kill 107 People?
Kaatera and Prabha were all set to marry when the former learned that a large group of fighters were called to eradicate Kaatera and the village. Kaatera was responsible for causing a green revolution of sorts when his stance against the landlords was taken up by many in the state. Kaatera was close to forming a political party for the welfare of the farmers, which further irked Devaraya and Kala Gowda, who took it upon themselves to settle the score quickly. On learning about the presence of an army of 108 skilled swordsmen, Kaatera killed them all and spared only one man out of everyone. Kaatera regretted killing the men, but he believed it needed to be done to save himself and the village. All the men were killed by Kaatera’s sharpest sword.
Back in 1989, one survivor of the onslaught tried to incinerate the bones found at the site, which were being investigated by the forensic doctor. It is understood that the bodies that were found belonged to the men killed by Kaatera. The survivor was in awe of Kaatera’s skills and the fact that he let one of them go. This act of generosity changed the brainwashed kid’s life, and he soon became a police officer. The forensic officer was touched by the story of transformation and the reason behind Kaatera’s brutal act of crime; she passed off the deaths as natural.
Why Was Devaraya Killed?
Sadly, Prabha was killed just hours before her wedding. The wedding with her mortal remains was carried out, and the heartbroken Kaatera bid her farewell. Out of sheer anguish and rage, he killed Devaraya as he decided to take the law into his own hands. Kaatera was tired of the back-and-forth between himself and the landlords. He believed if the landlords could get away with all their crimes, he did not mind commiting a few as well. He was aware Devaraya was responsible for his disappearance from his wedding, which allowed Prabha to be murdered. Devaraya was brutally killed, and Kaatera was taken into custody. He could not be treated like a victim, as murder is a crime. He was sentenced to life in prison, and years later he was back in town for ‘Hole Mari’.
Who Killed Prabha?
The elderly folk of the village were excited to have an old and dejected Kaatera back in the town, taking part in the ‘Hole Mari’ festival. Kaatera was least excited because he could not connect to the village any more after living in prison for many years. The prison life, along with losing Prabha, had changed him and made him decide not to sacrifice the bull. Kaatera confronted his brother-in-law, Paddu, who had followed in the footsteps of his father and became the next important member of the village. He was an educated man, just like Prabha, but his education never helped him. People like Paddu only use education as a tool to make themselves feel superior.
Kaatera, at the festival, reveals his brother-in-law’s role in Prabha’s murder. It was Paddu who killed her because she chose to marry someone outside of their caste. This was a case of brainwashing and conditioning a man into believing that women should stay within the boundaries created for them, no matter how educated they were. Paddu was enraged at the fact that his sister dared to destroy the family legacy and chose to marry and have kids with a person that was considered inferior by him and his father. This was a case of honor killing, which was rampant in that era. Kaatera killed his brother-in-law with the weapon meant for beheading the bull.
Kaatera preaches to his village to work toward making the village hospitable and more human-centric. Kaatera gave credit to his deceased wife, who was trying to bring change to the village by helping everyone but had to pay the price with her life. Kaatera requested that his village townspeople, including Kale Gowda, take a humane approach to treating each other. Kaatera had to take up the weapon because that was the only way he was aware of it. He let the bull go as an act of penance. The movie ended with Kaatera heading back to prison and leaving the village in the hope they would take his words seriously.