Tamil cinema

Balaji on GST joke in Tamil film ‘Kee’: ‘You can’t stop people from speaking their minds’

The joke about Goods and Services Tax emerged two days after the ‘Mersal’ controversy.

Mersal isn’t the only Tamil movie to poke fun at the Goods and Service Tax. On October 21, actor and radio jockey Balaji tweeted a scene from Kee, which complains about the impact of the widely reviled taxation system on restaurant bills.

In the clip from the upcoming movie, which has been directed by Kalees, Balaji’s character narrates a story about two friends going to eat dinner at a restaurant. “It’ll actually be just you and me dining at a restaurant. But the bill will be so huge that it will look like two more people joined us for dinner. You know who those extra people are? They are GST. They make one’s stomach burn,” he says.


The video was released two days after the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu wing demanded the removal of a scene from Mersal, in which lead actor Vijay criticises GST and the government’s inability to provide reliable healthcare. Soundararajan claimed that Mersal was an insult to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre’s policies, forcing the producers to declare that they would consider removing the sequence. The scene has, however, not been excised from the October 18 release.

The timing of the promo from Kee is no coincidence, Balaji told Scroll.in. “As a film, Kee has nothing to do with GST as such; it is actually a film that talks about the scary bits of the internet,” said Balaji, who is a popular radio jockey and a television host in Chennai. “This scene in which I speak about GST is one that we dubbed much before the Mersal controversy. But we wanted to release the scene as a promo now because we wanted to send a message. If you think you can stop one film from talking about issues, there will be many others that will speak up. You can’t stop people from speaking their minds or expressing themselves. We wanted to make a statement that we are not scared and we are not going to stop expressing ourselves.”

What if the BJP raises similar objections to Kee? “If anyone asks us to remove the scene, again it will not be justified at all,” Balaji said. “Take Mersal, for example. The censor board itself did not raise any objections to the scene. Now, after the release of the film, nobody has any right to object to anything. In Kee, the scene we just released isn’t mind-bogglingly brilliant or anything. It is just that we had already shot and dubbed the scene and we thought we should use it to send a message. How many films will you stop, we want to ask.”

An environment of fear has set in throughout the country, especially across the media, Balaji observed, and it was time to address the stifling of opposing points of view. “This level of censorship or monitoring content is not acceptable,” Balaji said. “If there is an issue, people are bound to talk about the pros and cons of it. The same applies to content in a film. Yes, cinema is a very powerful medium. You can’t say certain issues cannot be referred to or brought up in a film.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.