The Thrissur District Medical Officer has taken suo motu cognizance of the Sarkar poster, where actor Vijay is seen smoking, and has approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Thrissur with a complaint. Dr KJ Reena, the District Health Officer, Thrissur, has filed a case against actor Vijay, Sarkar producers Sun Pictures, and the distributors of Sarkar in this regard.
Dr KJ Reena told TNM, “The film poster goes against section 5(2) of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003.” This section of the Act prohibits the display of images that advertise cigarettes and tobacco products, or that promote the use or consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products.
“The Act is aimed at reducing the incidence of smoking and use of tobacco products amongst the public. Images like this glamourise smoking and could encourage the youth to pick up such unwanted habits,” she says.
Dr Reena stressed, “This is a criminal offence. The complaint has been filed directly to the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Thrissur. We have taken down the posters exhibited here under our jurisdiction. Those in other jurisdictions can take cognisance and also do the same.”
Vijay and the others named in the case will receive summons from the Thrissur Chief Judicial Magistrate in this regard. It is a bailable offence, and for first time offenders, the penalty for the offence is up to two years imprisonment and/or a fine of Rs 1000.
This is not the first controversy the movie has been mired in. Before the movie’s release, there were allegations of intellectual property rights infringement on the part of director AR Murugadoss, which were resolved before its Diwali release.
Immediately after the movie’s release, political groups in Tamil Nadu including AIADMK protested against scenes in the film, after which the makers decided to cut some scenes, leading to a newly edited version being screened in theatres.