Can political parties control what jokes are made in movies and what messages are given out by stars? The BJP seems to think so, as their Tamil Nadu leader Tamilisai Soundarajan, and others in the party, have taken offence to some scenes in Vijay’s Deepavali release, Mersal.
On Thursday, Tamilisai Soundarrajan said that the scenes related to GST and Digital India in Mersal must be removed. She further went on to accuse actor Vijay of spreading false information because he wants to enter politics.
"I haven't seen the movie, but those who saw the movie say there were factual errors in what was said. The scenes on GST and Digital India have been written in such a way so as to create a wrong impression on the minds of people," she told TNM.
But don't movie makers have the artistic freedom to crack jokes? "Yes, they do. You don't have to praise the schemes we have brought in. But to compare India with another country and that too in an incorrect way, would send the wrong message to people here. This is a political move," she alleged.
The scenes that Tamilisai is referring to come at two different points in the film. In the first scene, Vijay and Vadivelu’s characters are in a foreign country, when someone tries to rob them. Vadivelu then opens his wallet and shows the thief that it’s empty - thanks to Digital India!
The second scene is a ‘message’ scene where Vijay’s character compares India to Singapore. Speaking about the tax rates and medical cover in the two countries, Vijay says that while Singapore charges only 7% GST, the people there get free medical treatment. He compares this to India, where people are charged 28% GST but still don’t get free treatment. Considering the film is about malpractices and greed in the medical sector, the message is part of the narrative.
However, the BJP whose government at the Centre managed to pass the GST a few months back, has taken offence to both messages.
RSS member and BJP’s TN Youth Wing leader SG Suryah posted several memes on Twitter countering the claims made by the movie. One of the memes counters the GST claim, saying, “GST has been there in Singapore since 1994. There, every citizen contributes 8-10.5% of their monthly income for medisave. For medical expenses, they pay 7% GST. Without knowing all this, how do you fib that medical care is free there!”
Saw Vijay starrer Mercel... horrible movie. By idiots for idiots off idiots! Those who haven't seen... take it as a warning.— MRV (@MRVChennai) October 18, 2017