The curious case of #MersalVsBJP
What’s a blockbuster without a controversy? Ilayathalapathy’s Diwali release Mersal has managed to irk Bharatiya Janta Party's state unit in Tamil Nadu, and they have taken serious offence to some ‘incorrect references’ in Atlee's latest directorial venture. The film showcases Vijay’s direct dig at Goods and Services Act (GST) and Digital India and BJP has asked the makers to remove the controversial scenes.
GST is a sensitive issue in Tamil Nadu and has been opposed by Jayalaithaa when she was alive. Vijay’s character in the film says that GST in Singapore is just 7 percent and medical treatment is free, while in India it’s as high as 28 percent. The character goes on to say public health in India has failed, and asks if our ‘leaders’ will be treated in government hospitals when they fall sick. In another scene, hero’s side kick comedian Vadivelu in his inimitable style opens his wallet and tells a thief that it’s empty, thanks to Digital India.
BJP state unit president Tamilisai Sounderrajan recently said in a press conference that the references on GST is misleading, thus generating wrong information. "Vijay has political ambitions and that is the reason why these scenes are there in the movie," she said. However, Sounderrajan has not watched the film yet.
Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan of the BJP said, “The film producer has assured me the offending scenes on GST and Digital India will be removed from the film.” Though there is no official statement yet from the producers of Mersal.
BJP’s TN Youth Wing leader SG Suryah posted tweets countering Mersal's claims on GST in Singapore. However, it seems only the BJP's state leadership in Tamil Nadu is interested in deleting scenes from the film as the national leadership is yet to comment. The CPI(M) has described the BJP's criticism an "attack on freedom of expression".
Vijay's father SA Chandrasekhar, a veteran director, producer and actor has also backed his son and questioned BJP’s motive behind the move. Superstar Kamal Haasan too, came out in support of the film, and asked that the film should not be re-censored. He said those opposed to the film must “counter criticism with a logical response”. Earlier on Friday, 'Kabali' director Pa. Ranjith came to the defence of the 'Mersal' crew, questioning the BJP's logic of demanding the cuts.
Unfortunately, the move has already backfired on BJP terribly. The controversial scenes that they wanted to be deleted or muted have gone viral on social media, that too with subtitles. Credit goes to the movie piracy.
Mersal has reportedly earned Rs 22.5 crore from Tamil Nadu theatres alone and surpassed the opening of superstar Rajinikanth’s Kabali and Vijay’s earlier film Theri. Atlee’s packaging and Vijay’s triple role as father and sons and his trademark charisma adds to the reason behind the phenomenal success. Besides, experts claim that even if the scenes pointed out by BJP are to be cut, it will take days, as it has to be re-censored. Till then, the controversies will help Mersal in becoming a mega blockbuster!