Meera Kathiravan's Vizhithiru was due for release on October 6, along with many other Tamil films.
However, the sudden strike called by the Tamil Film Producers' Council over ticket pricing and entertainment taxes resulted in the release getting postponed. At the time, director Meera had told TNM that Vishal, the President of the Producers' Council, had assured him that when the strike is called off, the film would receive all the support needed from the Council.
However, in a recent speech, Sai Dhanshika, who is part of the Vizhithiru cast, tore into the Tamil film industry and called out the hypocrisy within it.
On money power in cinema
Among the issues she spoke about, was the money power that ruled the cinema industry.
Noting that the filmmaker had worked on Vizhithiru for five years but that when it was time for it to be released, it wasn't given a chance, she compared it to Vijay's Deepavali release Mersal.
"In the very next week, I saw that all the work for Mersal's release was going on in full swing. It's only then that I understood what's happening here. So is money at the centre of this? Not just in the industry but also in politics? People with money can do whatever they want. If I don't speak bravely now when will I speak about it? On which stage?" she asked.
Mersal released on October 18 while Vizhithiru eventually hit the screens on November 3. The film was unable to get favourable shows and theatre screens with the new date unlike the October weekend in which it was originally meant to release.
A visibly emotional Dhanshika began her speech by saying that it was common for actors who'd performed in a film to attend a film's success meet happily.
"But more than participating in this film's victory, I'm happy to participate in this film's pain. I find it very difficult to speak because my heart is so heavy," she said.
Dhanshika went on to say that if actors - big and small - participated in such events, they would understand the pain of a director and producer better.
"I have started understanding it now," she said. "Whatever I knew at a superficial level, I now know in greater detail."
‘Faced more failure than success’
Dhanshika said that she's someone with a positive mindset.
"From my first film until now, I have faced more failure than success. It's very difficult for a Tamil woman to come up in the Tamil film industry, and that too in this society," she said.
Adding that she was proud to be part of such an event, she said, "We didn't get theatres, though the movie is good, it didn't run. This is not my first experience. Before this, a film called Uru released. There were many difficulties - ones that I can't speak about - when making that film. We didn't get proper theatres. Publicity was poor. We couldn't reach people properly. That film didn't run well."
"After that, I had the question - I'm making films with good stories, good screenplay. Maybe I should change. Maybe in the entertaining world, I should also be entertaining and not just do films that speak of good things. People - including youngsters like me - don't seem to like it. They feel it should be said in an entertaining way. I learnt all this and started changing myself," she said.
‘Beauty is not just being white’
In her speech, Dhanshika also slammed the colour prejudice in Kollywood.
"Films with dark skinned people used to be made earlier. Now can you name even one or two films like that? They don't come. Because this colour influence is ingrained in our genes and passed on from one generation to another. We still have a lot of people who are awed by white people who come to our country. I was also one of them. It's only later that I realised that it's not like that. That beauty is not just being white," she said.
Noting that she was not a big star in the industry and that she couldn't claim that her market value had shot up after Kabali, Dhanshika said that if she had to speak about issues she has faced, she'd have to call for another meeting like this.
"Because there are many such problems which I can't go into on this stage. At least I did a few other films. But Meera sir believed in that story and focused only on that," she said.
Dhanshika went on to speak about her decision to chop her long hair for Kabali.
"I did it for that character. There are many women who got a haircut like me. I was very surprised to see that. I thought I'd done it for the film, a Rajinikanth film, and wondered why these women have done this. It was then that I understood that the film had had such an influence on them. Then I understood that as an actor, I should be socially conscious. In future, I will ensure that I do films which are socially conscious," she said.
On the TR incident
She also opened up about actor T Rajendar's behaviour at a press conference where he spoke to her in a derogatory manner in front of everyone.
"Everyone has the question, why I haven't expressed my opinion about it. I said I didn't want to answer anyone. It took me a week to come out of that incident. Here, someone said that there are many issues behind women in society. There are many criminals who go around pretending to be good people. He said TR Sir is a spiritual person. Let me tell you that no spiritual person will shout like that and speak. Why I'm saying this is because I meditate and am a spiritual person. This is where I get my peace from," she said.
Dhanshika added that she used to be a very angry person earlier but had changed after her engagement with spirituality.
"That's why, even in that situation, I was still calm. I was very affected by it emotionally, yes, but such insults have come my way after that also. I'm in the media and so you came to know about it. But there are many such incidents which happen to women in society. This doesn't mean that all men are at fault. There are many men who have helped me, like Meera Kathiravan and I thank them," said.
Dhansika shared her thoughts on the current state of the Tamil film industry, which is plagued by piracy and also the mistreatment of artistes and technicians.
"Cinema industry is in a bad state. I'm doing films in other languages also. When I go there, I see everyone, the technicians, working very happily. They get their money, the film releases, everyone goes to see it. If a film with a good concept is made, it becomes a success, it gets good business, people get money. But it's not like that here. If you make a film, market it, promote it, release it and take it to the people, only then you get money. When all other industries are super, why is our industry still not like that?" she asked, adding that piracy was a huge problem in Kollywood.