Actor Sivaji’s welfare association urges Dhanush not to use ‘Karnan’ as film title

The letter said that for Tamils living across the world, the title immediately brings to mind actor Sivaji Ganesan’s ‘Karnan’.
Sivaji Ganesan and Dhanush
Sivaji Ganesan and Dhanush
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Among the releases that actor Dhanush awaits in the near future is Karnan, directed by Mari Selvaraj. Now, in a letter addressed to the actor, the Nadigarthilagam Sivaji Samooganala Peravai (Sivaji Welfare Association) has requested the actor to change the title of this film, on grounds that it is also the title of actor Sivaji Ganesan’s most popular film from the sixties.

“For Tamils living across the world, the title Karnan immediately brings to mind actor Sivaji’s Karnan. Although it’s legally allowed to use a film’s name for another, honestly, according to one’s conscience, titles of certain films should not be reused,” K Chandrasekaran, the Association’s President, wrote in the letter dated December 13.

“Karnan refers to a giver, a benevolent giver. But it’s said that your film is on someone who fights for rights. It’s an acceptable title if you’re recreating the story of Mahabharata. But for a social film, it’s not right to use the title Karnan and for you to act in it,” the letter says and adds that doing so would not just hurt Sivaji’s fans but also hurt fans of the Indian epic Mahabharata.

Directed by BR Panthulu, Sivaji’s Karnan, based on the character from the Mahabharata, was released in 1965. The film was a smashing success and is considered to be a milestone both in Tamil cinema and in Sivaji’s acting career. 

The character of Karnan is one among the most popular from the Mahabharata. Writers have adapted him in modern-day stories and films. In Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathy starring Rajinikanth, the latter’s character was based on Karnan.

The letter also points out that the association’s request is not without precedent. “When we expressed our dissent for your film titled Thiruvilayadal in the past, you had obliged and changed it to Thiruvilayaadal Aarambam,” it says. The Dhanush and Shriya Saran starrer released in 2006.

The letter further says that titles such as Uthamaputhiran (2010) starring Dhanush, Aandavan Kattalai (2016) starring Vijay Sethupathi, Raja (2002) starring Ajith, and Pachai Vilakku (an upcoming 2020 film) were all titles taken from Sivaji’s popular films from the past and that the association had no qualms about it. “Titles of social films can be reused. But titles such as Saraswathi Sabadham, Thiruvilayadal, Karnan, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Kappalotiya Tamizhan should not be reused. Their uniqueness is such,” the letter says.

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