The Madras High Court on Thursday, August 11, quashed the FIR filed against the makers of ‘Jai Bhim’, for the portrayal of the Vanniyar community in the movie.

Suriya in Jai Bhim Screengrab/ YouTube
Flix Cinema Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 15:44

In a big relief to the makers of Jai Bhim, the Madras High Court quashed the First Information Report (FIR) filed against actor Suriya and director Gnanavel. The FIR was filed based on a complaint that alleged that the movie hurt the sentiments of the Vanniyar community and that they had been portrayed in a bad light. The order was pronounced by Madras High Court Justice N Sathish Kumar on Thursday, August 11. 

In December 2021, Chennai-based advocate K Santhosh of Rudra Vanniyar Sena had approached the Saidapet court seeking direction to the police to register an FIR against actor Suriya and Jai Bhim director Gnanavel. The petitioner alleged that Jai bhim was made with an “ulterior motive to instigate communal violence between communities” and spark “Vanniyar phobia”. After the court accepted the petitioner’s argument, it directed Chennai police to lodge an FIR against Suriya, Jyotika and Gnanavel. Vanniyars are an intermediary, but politically powerful community in Tamil Nadu. The FIR alleged that a calendar displayed in a scene in the movie showed the Agni Kundam - the symbol of Vanniyar Sangam. The name of the sub inspector of police in the movie who tortured the victim in police custody, was Gurumurthy. The complaint alleged that the name was chosen after a popular leader of the Vanniyar community.

The FIR was registered against actor Suriya and director Gnanavel at the Velachery police station based on the directions of the Saidapet Magistrate court. Suriya and Gnanvel filed a joint petition before the Madras High Court asking to quash the said FIR filed against them.

The critically acclaimed film Jai Bhim, which dealt with the theme of custodial death, apart from Suriya, also starred actors Prakash Raj, Rajisha Vijayan, Manikandan, Lijomol Jose and Rao Ramesh, among others in pivotal roles. The film sparked a row after Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)’s Anbumani Ramadoss called the film  “a planned attack on the Vanniyar community.” He also questioned the way one of the characters, a brutal Sub-Inspector, was represented, alleging that it was an insult to Vanniyars. 

In response to the allegations, Suriya had issued a statement in November saying that the core concept was based on the case fought by retired Justice Chandru, and discussed the struggles of indigenous people.  "Neither my team, nor I have ever harbored any intention at any point in time to insult any individual or community as mentioned by you in your letter. I hope you are aware that corrections were carried out as soon as some people pointed out mistakes,” a part of Suriya’s statement read. 

A detailed order of the Madras High Court on this matter is awaited. 

Read: Vanniyar Sangam issues notice to Suriya, makers of Jai Bhim, seeks Rs 5 cr in damages

Jai Bhim review: Suriya’s courtroom drama is disturbing, well-enacted

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