Chennai: The makers of Vijay starrer ‘Sarkar’ have agreed to remove “objectionable” scenes and “mute” an apparent reference to the late J Jayalalithaa, an industry body said Thursday, as the movie faced a backlash from the ruling AIADMK over depiction of its welfare schemes and its leader.
The AIADMK was up in arms against ‘Sarkar’ with senior AIADMK ministers demanding deletion of the contentious scenes, besides threatening to initiate legal action if the film crew failed to comply.
While a theatre owners’ body announced that the edited version would be screened from Friday afternoon, sources in the ‘Sarkar’ crew said a “compromise” has been reached. M Subramaniam, president, West Zone Theatre Owners’ Association, said they had spoken to Sun Pictures and the film’s Tamil Nadu distributor, telling them “we cannot screen the movie with objectionable scenes.”
“They said they will sit at the editing table tonight and edit the scenes. Following a letter (of approval) from the Censor Board, we will start screening the edited version tomorrow from the matinee show (2.30 PM),” he said.
Further, the name of a woman character apparently referring to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa would be “muted,” he added.
The Tamil Nadu Multiplex Theatre Owners’ Association described the move as a “welcome” one. “The film is having a good run. Some persons are objecting and they have started targeting theatres. Against this backdrop, Sun Pictures has come out with a compromise formula which is a welcome move,” Abirami Ramanathan, president, TN Multiplex Theatres’ Association, said.
There was no immediate official word from makers of the film, but sources in the ‘Sarkar’ unit said a ‘compromise’ has been arrived upon, referring to Subramaniam’s statement.
‘Sarkar,’ produced by Sun Pictures, stars Vijay and Keerthi Suresh in key roles, and was released on November 6. It is directed by AR Murugadoss and has music by Oscar winner AR Rahman.
Earlier, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar wanted to know why certain references deemed to be that to the late Jayalalithaa had found their way into the script.
Law Minister C Ve Shanmugham said certain scenes amounted to inciting violence and compared the makers to terrorists. He had warned of action.
“The scenes relating to burning of items disbursed under government welfare schemes amount to inciting violence. Whether it is the producer (Sun Pictures) or actor (Vijay), or theatres– they will have to face action,” he told reporters.
DMK leader Pazha.Karuppiah, who has played the antagonist’s role in the film, wanted to know how scenes of a movie could be deleted after the Censor Board had cleared it.
Reports suggested that certain scenes show grinder, mixers and fans being burnt, seen as an obvious reference to the late Jayalalithaa’s flagship schemes of providing these items free of cost, in line with an electoral promise in 2011.
AIADMK workers staged a protest outside a theatre in Madurai demanding that certain scenes be removed. A show was cancelled. Workers said they would not allow the film to be screened till “derogatory” scenes and dialogues were removed, the police said.
At some movie halls in Coimbatore and Chennai, banners of the film and that of Vijay were damaged and burnt allegedly by AIADMK supporters. Some AIADMK workers staged a sit-in at a theatre in Coimbatore seeking a ban on the film.
On a character whose name has purported reference to Jayalalithaa, Jayakumar said it was an attempt at “maligning” the late party chief and sought legal action against the crew.
Referring to the films of matinee idol and AIADMK founder, former chief minister M G Ramachandran, Jayakumar said the late leader’s films never carried such content.
In an apparent reference to MGR’s elevation from a film star to chief minister, he said “not all can become MGR.”
Lashing out at Vijay, Information Minister Kadambur C Raju said “This is not good for a growing actor like Vijay.” He had said the government would advise the makers of the film to remove the scenes and that the future course of action would be decided according to the latter’s move.
Meanwhile, sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran lashed out at the ‘Sarkar’ team, saying there was commercial intent behind the controversies.
He, however, denied that a particular woman character’s name had reference to Jayalalithaa. “Komalavalli (the character’s name) is not Amma’s name at all. In 2002-03 when a Congressman referred to her by this name, Amma herself said this was not her name and that she had not even done any such film role,” he said.
However, the film was produced with “commercial intent and they have to do something” to make it a success, he added. “You know who the producers are,” he said, in an apparent referrence to Sun Pictures, owned by the Maran brothers of the DMK’s extended first family.
Actor-politician Karuppiah, a former AIADMK MLA who switched over to DMK, seemed to see no reason behind the demand for removal of the contentious scenes, saying it was released only after being cleared by the Censor Board. Recalling BJP’s opposition to Vijay’s 2017 movie ‘Mersal’, he said the party had made the film a grand success and that the AIADMK was now going to do the same for ‘Sarkar.’
Earlier, an aspiring filmmaker had claimed that the film’s story was his, following which director AR Murugadoss went in for a compromise with the claimant.