The ad with the tagline “There are potholes on the way to the theatre, but still please come” has irked many Left-inclined social media users in Kerala where roads have been riddled with umpteen potholes.
As many users viewed the ad that was posted on actor Kunchako Boban’s Facebook handle as a critical take on the state government over the sorry state of Kerala roads, some have gone to the extent of calling for a boycott of the film.
Sharing the photograph of the poster of the movie on Facebook, a user Prem Kumar wrote in Malayalam roughly translated as, “It is almost on the lines of creating a notion that Pinarayi smuggled gold in biryani vessel, all girls have been made to wear trousers as per CPI(M)’s decision, and Silverline is a programme organised by LDF without the knowledge of Railways. Some people have written and directed the story with vested interests. They want to target those who do good work. That ‘Kerala roads are full of potholes’ – is an anti-people campaign. The film distributors are shamelessly saying that they are also part of the anti-people group by writing this advertisement tagline for a movie poster. It is not even saying there might be potholes in some places. Actually, I had decided to watch the film today itself. Now I am not watching it today. Let it be after knowing the number of potholes. The government elected by people should not become a drum to be beaten by them,” reads the post.
On the other hand, some users are also of the stance that the creative freedom of filmmakers should be appreciated. Apart from that, what caught the attention of a section of internet users is the ad published in the CPM mouthpiece in Malayalam, ‘Deshabhimani’. Many users mocked the publication for posting an ad purported to be critical of the government.
Malayalam actor Joy Mathew, responded on Facebook, saying that there are indeed potholes on roads. “People are dying after falling in potholes. The court has intervened voluntarily on the issue. My greetings to the filmmakers who have highlighted a fact for a film’s advertisement.” He mocked the “intolerants” and also suggested a correction for the tagline: “Instead of ‘There is a pothole on road’ it should have been ‘There is a road on pothole’.”
Mohammad Riyas, Minister for Public Works Department, during an interaction with media, said that it should be viewed as a film’s advertisement and not be taken seriously, according to the ‘Reporter’ channel.
Responding to the row, Kunchako Boban, who plays the protagonist, said that the film is not targeting any political party or government. He was quoted as saying by ‘Asianet’, “Pothole is not the only problem in the movie. Yet it is a major reason. The movie is an emotional drama depicting how it affects the common man through satire and comedy. It is not produced to target any particular political group. The political parties that come to power should understand the condition of the common people. Laced in humour, the film tells how problems arise on different levels. The film does not target any political party or government.” He added that the film revolves around an incident that happened in Tamil Nadu and urged people to perceive the good elements, and not to court controversy.
Helmed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan, the film starring Kunchacko Boban is billed as a courtroom comedy, which sheds light on the follies of our criminal justice system.
Notably, the Kerala High Court had intervened in the condition of roads in the state following the death of a two-wheeler rider from Ernakulam on August 5. The court had directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to immediately close potholes on national highways. In July this year, the court had warned that the responsibility of roads lies with the contractors and engineers. In the wake of the deaths related to the poor condition of roads, the court said contractors and engineers will have to take the responsibility.