Pa Ranjith’s Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala, scheduled to hit the screens on June 7, will not be released in theatres in Karnataka, reported India Today. The decision was taken on May 29 by the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce after several local organisations demanded a ban on the film, upset with actor Rajinikanth’s comments on the sharing of the Cauvery’s water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth told reporters on May 20 that it was Karnataka’s duty to obey the orders of the Supreme Court. On May 3, the top court had directed Karnataka to release at least 2 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu. In response, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had asked the actor to come and check the reservoir levels. “Water is not sufficient,” he said.

On Tuesday, Sa Ra Govindu, the president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, held a meeting with Goldie Films, the distributors of Kaala in Karnataka. “Kannadigas are upset with Rajinikanth’s comments on the Cauvery issue and so his film will not be released in Karnataka,” he said in a statement. “As many as ten letters from various pro-Kannada groups have reached the Film Chamber, demanding a ban on Kaala in Karnataka. Considering the sentiments of Kannadigas, there is pressure on us to not release the film.”

The sharing of water from the Cauvery has been a long-standing issue between the two states. The statements of Tamil actors on the matter have become a point of contention ahead of the release of key films. In 2017, Baahubali actor Sathyaraj was forced to apologise for the comments made against Kannadigas during Cauvery water sharing protests in 2008. Kannada groups had threatened to block the release of the film Baahubali: The Conclusion.

Govindu pointed out to The New Indian Express that Rajinikanth had always handled the issue “in a diplomatic way” earlier. “But when he entered politics and formed a party, he made a direct attack on us, which has not gone down well with Karnataka,” he said. “It is a question of our prestige and we want to keep our word. We will not allow his film to be released here.”