Amid threats and protests by the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu against makers of the film, Sarkar, the Madras High Court Friday restrained police from arresting director A R Murugadoss till November 27.
And with AIADMK party workers and state ministers targeting the move in several theatres for alleged references to late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the production team announced a decision to delete three “objectionable” scenes, which has been approved by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The Madras High Court directions came after Murugadoss moved for anticipatory bail citing threats from AIADMK ministers that they would slap sedition charges against him.
The movie, which stars Vijay, released on November 6 and is backed by Sun Pictures, owned by Opposition DMK-linked Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran, who produced the movie. While Sun Pictures, owned by rivals of the ruling AIADMK, was expected to fight back, a senior Sun Pictures official said they agreed to alter the movie with three significant corrections as “it was not about politics, but business”.
A source close to Murugadoss said they made the changes in consultation with “aggrieved” ministers and leaders of AIADMK. “We hope that the controversy will come to an end now,” the source said.
Among the three changes made to the film, and approved by CBFC, is the deletion of a sequence, where director Murugadoss, who acts in the film, is seen throwing mixers and grinders away. The scene provoked TN ministers, including Law Minister C V Shanmugam, as they were among the freebies doled out by the AIADMK regime.
Another change was muting the word ‘Komala’ from the name ‘Komalavalli’ in the audio and subtitles throughout the movie. Komalavalli is believed to be Jayalalithaa’s original name and this mention drew sharp criticism from AIADMK ministers.
Leading Tamil writer Vaasanthi who penned the biography “Jayalalithaa: A Portrait” told The Indian Express that Jayalalithaa herself said that it was not her name. “My biography of Jayalalithaa had references that Komalavalli was her first name. The book was never released as a stay order was issued. A number of charges she raised against the book included the alleged ‘wrong information’ of her name as Komalavalli. When I republished the book in 2016, I removed the portion referring to ‘Komalavalli’ as she had denied that information. I used that information in the first book based on what I heard from two sources,” she said.
The movie has also muted a portion where it talks about ‘Podhuppanithurai’ (Public Works Department).
This is not the first Vijay-starrer to court controversy. In 2013, Vijay had to remove the tagline ‘Time To Lead’ from his movie Thalaivaa after it reportedly irked then CM Jayalalithaa. Vijay’s Diwali release in 2017, Mersel, came under attack from the BJP over dialogues and scenes criticising the Goods and Service Taxes (GST) policy and for highlighting the death of children at a government hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.