Film depicting BR Ambedkar receives Hollywood praise

‘Origin’ is adapted from Isabel Wilkerson’s book ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’

Angelina Jolie with ‘Origin’ lead actress Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and director Ava DuVernay(center) / Supplied

‘Origin’ a film partly set in India has received praise from several Hollywood bigwigs, including Angelina Jolie and Ben Affleck. 

The movie is an interpretation of the book ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.’ It also includes the story of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, an activist who strived for equal rights for lower-caste individuals and is known as the father of the Indian Constitution. 

Starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor and Jon Bernthal, the movie is written and directed by Ava DuVernay. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2023. 

It has received a Gotham nomination for Lead Actress for Ellis-Taylor and a Best Film Golden Lion nomination at the Venice Film Festival to name a few. However, the big-league awards like Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and SAG snubbed ‘Origin’ for the nominations. 

Supplied / ‘Origin’ director Ava DuVernay on sets in India

‘Origin’ showcases how Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson pieced the book together while experiencing unfathomable personal loss and love across three continents. In the book, Wilkerson associates the Black experience in the U.S., to that of the Dalits in India and Jews in Nazi Germany. The New York Times reviewer called the book “the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”

In conversation with NPR, DuVernay shared how Wilkerson’s experiences in Germany and India were investigated where skin color was not used for the caste system. The director said the blueprints of the Holocaust were derived from American segregation laws and the subjugation of Black Americans, and that Nazi lawyers went to the US to study those laws and rules.

“And so through her travels, she can relate these both contemporary and historical analyses to the African American condition in the United States,” DuVernay told NPR. 

‘Origin’ released in theaters on January 19.