Feature Article

Furore in Tamil Nadu over 'anti-Tamil' film

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 March 2008, 19:29 GMT]
Politicians and film personalities from Tamil Nadu have taken strong exception to a Sinhalese film that seeks to "vulgarize the Tamil liberation struggle in Sri Lanka." Tamil Nadu Film Producers' Association President Rama. Narayanan condemned the film for disgracing the Tamil people at the end of a special screening. Tamil Protection Movement President Thol. Thirumavalavan vowed to take legal action to prevent the film's release in Tamil Nadu since he felt that it not only degraded the Eelam liberation struggle and hurt Tamil sentiments but it was also capable of disrupting communal harmony in Sri Lanka.

The Censor Board of Sri Lanka had cleared the film under controversy, made by Thusara Peiries, for worldwide release on April 25. It has been reported that SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself has seen the film and instructed the military commanders also to see it.

Mr. Peiries who completed the Sinhala version of his maiden film had gone to India last week to make the Tamil version of the film. He was gheraoed by a number of Tamil activists who demanded that the film should be previewed by Tamil leaders and people from the Tamil film industry, before it is screened in India.

According to Peiries, he was beaten up on this occasion, surrounded by people numbering around a thousand and had fainted. He was later taken to his hotel by the Indian authorities who arranged his immediate departure from Chennai. In the meantime, he was pressurized to arrange the preview of his film and afterwards forced to sign a document allowing the screening of the film in Tamil Nadu to the discretion of the authorities. He is now stated to be staging a fast-unto-death campaign in Colombo demanding that Indian and Sri Lankan governments should help him to get back the copies of the Tamil version of the film.

Speaking to mediapersons after seeing the preview of the film at MM Theatre in Koadampaakkam, Chennai, Thirumavalavan, the leader of VCK, said that the "GoSL-sponsored" film was a massive exercise of disinformation against the Tamil liberation struggle. "Such a film is sure to disturb the law and order in the state. If the Tamil version of the film is released, it will certainly cause social unrest and wide scale rioting. In my opinion, the sole aim of the film is to tarnish the image of the Tamil liberation struggle in Sri Lanka. Such a disgraceful portrayal of the Tamil freedom movement will lead to a breakdown of law and order in Tamil Nadu."

The VCK President also added that his party would appeal to the Tamil Nadu Producers' Association against the film.

Tamil Nadu Film Producers' Association President Rama Narayanan, who was present at the screening, condemned the film for "disgracing the Tamil people."

Other prominent personalities who were present during the screening were Pattali Makkal Kadchi Vice President Muthukumar, film directors Thangar Bachan and Seeman, actor Satyaraj and his wife, Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam General Secretary Viduthalai Rajendran, Tamil activist-writer Suba.Veerapandian and Tiruchi Velusamy.

Viduthalai Rajendran pointed out that the film's credits thank the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence, which clearly reveal the "real producers" of the film. "The film even downplays the ceasefire agreement (CFA), thus proving that it is a mere mirror of the GoSL." He further alleged that no scene in the film showed a Sri Lankan commander or army officer, but showed only the Sinhala people as sufferers and portrayed what was contrary to truth.

Director Seeman observed that certain people speak about the freedom of expression only when anti-Tamil sentiments were involved. He recalled instances of how Tamil films, which picturized the sufferings of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, such as Kaattukkenna Veali, were not allowed to be released or were released after prolonged legal battles. Nobody spoke about the freedom of expression at that time, he said.

"The film director, in his propaganda, camouflages himself with appealing words such as 'human suffering', a Chennai based film critic told TamilNet. "But, the very fact that it was approved by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and the military commanders of Sri Lanka, and the timing of the film, are enough to conclude the real motive of the film. The film is only an organ of the Rajapaksa government in its efforts to portray the Tamil struggle as International terrorism. Contrary to his claims, the director is not bringing out the LTTE's attitudes towards the Sinhalese, but only the Sinhala authoritarian attitude towards the Tamil cause."


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