Baahubali actor Sathyaraj on Friday issued an apology for the comments he made against Kannadigas during Cauvery water protests in 2008. “I am not against Karnataka. I apologise for the statement I made nine years ago,” he said.

In 2008, Sathyaraj had supported Tamil farmers during their protest demanding Cauvery water. Kannada groups on Thursday gave the actor eight days to apologise for his statement, failing which they had threatened to shut down Bengaluru on April 28, the day the movie is slated for release in Karnataka, Hindustan Times reported.

Sathyaraj’s apology comes a day after filmmaker and Baahubali director SS Rajamouli appealed to protesting Kannadigas to not block the release of Baahubali - The Conclusion because of near decade-old comments. “Sathyaraj sir is not the producer or director of the film. He is one among the many artists who have worked in the film. It is unfair to target the film because of some comments he had made,” Rajamouli said in a video on social media.

“Some comments made by Sathyaraj have purportedly hurt the sentiments of Kannadigas. But on behalf of the producers and crew of the film, I wish to clarify that we have nothing to do with those statements. They are Sathyaraj’s personal opinion and is not shared by us,” Rajamouli said.

Pro-Kannada organisations have been protesting against the release of Baahubali - The Conclusion because the Tamilian actor, who plays Kaatappa in the film, is believed to have called Kannadigas “dogs” during the Cauvery agitation in the state in 2008, according to The News Minute.

The founder of Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha Vatal Nagaraj has garnered the support of other such groups and made a number of speeches outside the Karnataka Film Chamber office in Bengaluru. Together, they had urged Kannadigas to demand an apology from “anti-Kannada Sathyaraj for insulting the people of the state”.

Rajamouli had also pointed out that banning Baahubali - The Conclusion in Karnataka would not affect Sathyaraj in any way. He emphasised that the producers were in “no way connected with the issue” and appealed to fans for the same support they showed during the release of Baahubali - The Beginning. The filmmaker said it was “not right” to dredge up an unrelated subject that was nine years old.