Imagining Eelam Tamils in Tamil cinema

M. Ranganathan*, S. Velayutham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Tamil cinema because of its origin is mostly preoccupied with Tamil culture, people and society. This is in contrast to the popular Hindi cinema or Bollywood that portrays a Hindi-speaking and an ethnically undifferentiated middle-class pan-Indian identity. Since the 1990s, driven by rising production costs, dwindling audiences and fickle markets, Bollywood began targeting the Indian diaspora as a potential market for its films. Bollywood immediately captured the imagination of overseas Indians, who are often depicted as successful migrants and having strong national allegiances to India. In this context, the ways in which diasporic Tamils are represented in Tamil cinema, especially the Sri Lankan or Eelam Tamils, who constitute the largest market and most proximate diasporic Tamil community outside Tamil Nadu, remain largely unexamined. This paper critically analyses depictions of Eelam Tamils in Tamil cinema in light of the three-decade-long separatist struggle, at most times led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, against the Sri Lankan government. We argue that shifts and changes in the India-Sri Lanka political relations in light of the ethnic conflict coupled with the nebulous articulation of ethnic affinity between Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils greatly impacted on the ways in which Eelam Tamils were depicted in Tamil cinema.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-881
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Imagining Eelam Tamils in Tamil cinema'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this