After a controversy erupted over the depiction of Eelam Tamils in web series The Family Man, the creators of the show have said that they have “utmost love and respect towards” the Tamil people. The Tamil Nadu government has backed groups that have called for a boycott of the show after the trailer of its second season was released, reported the Hindustan Times.
Eelam Tamils or Jaffna Tamils consider themselves the original inhabitants of the north and east of Sri Lanka and demand an independent state. The trailer shows actor Samantha Akkineni portraying a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group that was formed in 1976 to fight for the independence of Tamils in Sri Lanka and establish the state of Eelam. The LTTE is banned in India. Depiction of the liberation group has remained a controversial subject in Tamil cinema, according to India Today.
Several social media users criticised the show for allegedly portraying Tamils in bad light. A petition was also started to stop the release of the show. As many as 8,414 people have signed the petition as of Tuesday.
Naam Tamilar Katchi chief coordinator and Tamil nationalist Seeman sought a ban on the show, saying that the show “intentionally portrays” the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as “terrorists and Tamils as vicious people,” reported The Hindu.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu IT Minister T Mano Thangaraj also wrote a letter to Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar seeking to stop the show’s release, saying that it “depicts Eelam Tamils in a highly objectionable manner”.
Thangaraj added that the show “intentionally undermined” the historical struggle of the Eelam Tamils. “Branding Tamil speaking actress Samantha as a terrorist in the serial is directly an attack on the pride of Tamils living around the world and no one will tolerate this kind of motivated and mischievous campaign,” he said.
The minister claimed that the show was full of “insults and insinuations” against Tamil culture and that it could never be considered as having any broadcasting value.
Following the controversy, filmmakers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK and actor Manoj Bajpayee issued a statement to address the matter. They claimed that some people had made assumptions on the basis of just a few shots in the trailer.
“Many of our lead cast members, as well as key members of the creative and writing team, are Tamilians,” the statement said. “We are very cognizant of the sentiments of the Tamil people and Tamil culture and have nothing but the utmost love and respect towards our Tamil people.”
It said that the team has put hard work to bring “a sensitive, balanced, and riveting story” as they did in the first season. “We request everyone to wait and watch the show when it releases,” the statement added. “We know you’ll appreciate it once you watch it.”
The series, an action-drama, revolves around an official of the National Investigation Agency, played by Bajpayee. The second season is based in Chennai. It has been produced by streaming service Amazon Prime Video.