A few Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) functionaries have written a letter to the theatre owners’ association in a couple of areas and have asked them not to screen ‘Etharkkum Thunindhavan’ or ‘ET’, the upcoming movie of actor Suriya, claiming that the latter allegedly hurt the sentiments of the Vanniyar community in his previous film ‘Jai Bhim’ so none of his movies should be screened.
Bankrolled by Kalanithi Maran’s Sun Pictures, ‘Etharkkum Thunindhavan’ starring Suriya, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Vinay, Sathyaraj and directed by Pandiraj of Pasanga fame, is set for a grand release on March 10.
In a letter to the association, Vijayavarman, the secretary of the party’s students’ union in Cuddalore, noted that until Suriya issues a public apology to the Vanniyar Sangam people, his films shouldn’t be screened in theatres in the Cuddalore district.
“Jai Bhim was based on a true story of the Irular community. Although the crew managed to retain most of the characters’ names, like advocate Chandru was portrayed in the same name, the sub-inspector’s character, a Dalit Christian, was changed to Gurumoorthy, a Vanniyar,” he said.
He reiterated the PMK’s past accusation post the release of the movie that the sub-inspector has been portrayed as a casteist and the Agni Kalasam, a sacred symbol of the community, was shown in the background of the sub-inspector in one of the scenes with a “malafide intention of defaming and damaging the reputation of the entire Vanniyar community”.
Similar to Vijayavarman, PMK’s district secretaries of the Mayiladuthurai district, Krishnagiri also issued statements requesting the theatre owners’ association to halt the release in their districts.
However, speaking to indianexpress.com, K Balu, the spokesperson of the party, said these statements were issued by the local leaders and the party high command has not issued anything officially.
The Amazon Prime Video release ‘Jai Bhim’, starring Suriya, was in the centre of a controversy in the state after its release in November 2021. On behalf of the Vanniyar Sangam, a notice was issued to Suriya, his wife Jyothika of 2D Entertainment which produced the film, director T J Gnanvel and streaming giant Amazon for allegedly depicting their community in a poor light. They demanded an unconditional apology from Suriya as well as a compensation of Rs five crore.
Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK’s youth-wing leader, had also written a letter to Suriya and Suriya had replied by issuing a statement that he has no intention to hurt any caste or community and added that the issue should not be turned political.
The controversy reached a low point where one of the PMK office-bearers openly stated in the media that he would provide Rs 1 lakh to whoever attacks Suriya. The police later booked him and further beefed up security outside the actor’s house in Chennai.
Many prominent film personalities, including veteran director Bharathiraja and other leading artists and technicians, came out in support of the actor. The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to Anbumani and his cadres to refrain from criticising the actor who does not have any political, caste, or religious affiliations.