The production team of Vijay-starrer Sarkar on Thursday agreed to remove controversial scenes from the movie after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam workers protested outside movie theatres in Madurai, Chennai and Coimbatore.
The party’s workers stopped shows scheduled at 2.30 pm in three theatres in Madurai. “We will continue to protest outside theatres till the controversial scenes and dialogues aren’t removed,” AIADMK MLA VV Rajan Chellappa told ANI. “We appeal to exhibitors not to show it.”
Protests were also reported from Chennai and Coimbatore, where agitators tore up movie posters outside a theatre demanding that scenes be removed from the movie.
In a song called Oruviral Puratchi, people are shown throwing mixer grinders and wet grinders gifted by the government into a fire. Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa used to provide these items free of cost in line with an electoral promise made in 2011.
“The scenes relating to burning of government welfare amount to inciting violence,” said Law Minister CV Shanmugham. “Whether it is the producer [Sun Pictures] or the actor [Vijay], or theatres – they will have to face action.”
State Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar demanded legal action against the film’s crew and asked why the scenes had been incorporated into the script. “Why unnecessarily make such references?” he asked. “It shows vendetta and an attempt at maligning [Jayalalithaa].” Jayakumar said the villain in the movie is a character named Komalavalli, which was Jayalalithaa’s real name. However, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran said this was false.
The filmmakers have decided to mute the name Komalavalli, Cinema Express reported. The scene where the government’s freebies are set ablaze will also be removed.
Social activist G Devarajan on Thursday filed a complaint with the Chennai Police, accusing director AR Murugadoss of sedition. “The director himself burns the mixer and grinder, which the government had distributed to the public,” Devarajan told Scroll.in. “He does not have the right to burn the government freebies. It is humiliating to the government and the public.”
Tamil Nadu Information and Publicity Minister Kadambur C Raju had asked the filmmakers on Wednesday to remove scenes showing people throwing freebies provided by the state government into a fire.
Meanwhile, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan criticised the AIADMK government. “It’s not new for this government to pressurise the makers of a film who have duly obtained the censor certificate and have released a movie,” he tweeted. “A government that cannot accept criticism will definitely derail. These power brokers will fail. Only the righteous will win.”
The Madras High Court allowed the movie to be released only after Murugadoss agreed to give special credit for the story to KV Rajendran, a script writer and assistant director. Rajendran had alleged that the movie’s premise had been copied from his script Sengol, which he had registered with the South Indian Film Writers Association in 2007. After an investigation, the association, headed by K Bhagyaraj, released a statement acknowledging a similarity between the two films.
This is not the first time Vijay’s movie has run into controversy for its political content. Last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party had objected to a sequence in his movie Mersal that was critical of the Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation while doctors in the state protested against how they were depicted.