In order to put an end to the raging controversy that was threatening the release of director SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Conclusion in Karnataka, senior actor Sathyaraj on Friday issued a statement apologising for his remarks that he made when the tension between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Cauvery water row was at its peak. “About nine years ago, Tamilians in Karnataka were attacked during a Cauvery row. There were protests against the screening of Tamil films. The actors of Tamil film fraternity held a protest meet to condemn the attacks against Tamil films in Karnataka. Most of them, including me, spoke out of passion that day. In retaliation, my effigies were burnt in Karnataka,” Sathyaraj said in a statement.
Sathyaraj says sorry for his remarks
Apologising for his comments, Baahubali 2’s Kattappa said, “I understand that my remarks have caused personal pain to people of Karnataka. I am not against Kannadigas or Karnataka. The biggest example for this is that for the last 30 years my assistant has been Shekar who is a Kannadiga.” While noting that about 30 films of his were released in Karnataka in the last nine years without any problem, he added, “I was also offered a few Kannada movies. However, due to the time constraint, I could not take up on the offers… The feelings of people of Karnataka were hurt after they saw a video of my speech on YouTube from the past. I wholeheartedly apologise for certain words I used in my speech nine years ago,” he said.
SS Rajamouli requests groups not to ban Baahubali 2
An appeal to all the Kannada friends… pic.twitter.com/5rJWMixnZF
— rajamouli ss (@ssrajamouli) April 20, 2017
He also requested Tamilians and his well-wishers not to be upset with him. “I’m a small part of the biggest film called Baahubali. I don’t want the work of thousands of people to suffer due to the consequences of my actions. I also have the additional responsibility of protecting the interest of exhibitors and distributors of Karnataka, who have bought the theatrical right of Baahubali 2. So I hope you understand my decision,” he explained.
But, he also noted that he will continue to fight for the rights of Tamil people, including Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka or Cauvery and farmers’ rights. “So if the producers and directors think that they might face problems because of my actions, I request them not to approach a small actor like me for their films in the future and suffer losses,” he said, “I say it because I take more pride in being a Tamilian than an actor.”
“I lovingly ask Kannadigas to accept my heartfelt apology and support the release of Baahubali 2,” he said. He also thanked Rajamouli, producers and cast and crew of the film for their support in the issue.
Sathyaraj’s statement comes a day after the controversy intensified in Karnataka with pro-Kannada groups, mainly led by activist Vatal Nagaraj, refusing to relent on their demand. The agitating groups continued to threaten to stall the release of the film by calling for a state-wide bandh on April 28, the day Baahubali 2 will hit the screens worldwide. The protesters had also given an eight-day deadline for Sathyaraj to tender an apology, despite repeated attempts from the filmmakers to distance themselves from Sathyaraj’s controversial statements.
“Sathyaraj is neither the director nor the producer of this film. He is one of the many supporting actors in the film. If you stop this film, he is not going to face any loss. We think it is not right to punish so many people for one person’s comments and turn the anger on an individual towards Baahubali 2,” Rajamouli said in a video statement on Thursday. He also added that they have explained the situation to the actor and there is nothing more they can do.
Karnataka is an important market for the filmmakers from the business standpoint. It is the only state where Telugu, Tamil and Hindi versions of the film will be released. According to reports, Baahubali 1 earned a record share of Rs 35 crore for distributors in Karnataka alone. However, with Sathyaraj’s apology, Baahubali 2 should not face any problem in its release across the state.