However, actor Gauthami, who is part of the CBFC, said that the director had been told why the film was being rejected.

CBFC asked Why now Director Aravind on TNT film on Coimbatore blasts
Flix Kollywood Monday, December 03, 2018 - 18:38

Thelivuparhiyin Neesa Thooram is a Tamil film by director Aravind that may never hit the big screens. Why? This film was rejected by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), by both the Examining and Revising Committees.

Thelivuparhiyin Neesa Thooram or TNT, as its poster reads, is a film on the 1997 Coimbatore riots that eventually lead to the blasts in 1998. Director Aravind and his team, Gnatpan Siva and Sarthar, spent two years in research for this project that was rejected by the CBFC. However, Aravind does not sound dejected. “We will be filing a case soon,” he tells TNM.

“The committee unanimously dropped the gavel on the film. In fact, ours came for review on the same day as Murugadoss’s Sarkar did. They spent the same amount of time, if not less, to decide TNT’s fate,” says its director.

He further remarks that it is ironic that the CBFC thought Sarkar wouldn’t create any controversy when it actually did. “At different points in time, films that have been approved by the CBFC, like Sarkar, did create problems. What is the point in just allowing films that discuss very basic, LKG politics, bound by commercial elements?” he asks.

Aravind, however, makes an important point - “People are informed about politics from what they see in cinema. Talk shows on television and certain political films are the only means through with people get to discuss politics. In a state like Tamil Nadu, where rulers have once been commercial cinema heroes, how can this be sufficient for people to make their decisions? More serious, research-oriented cinema has to be made. Only then will it make a definite wave in the society.”

Talking about TNT, Aravind, who grew up and studied in Coimbatore, shares that he chose to work on the subject mainly because he felt the story was not over.

Director with actor Rohini

“The censor’s examining committee's main question was 'Why now?' How is it democratically healthy when only one side of the story is known? Muslims in Coimbatore are treated with contempt even today. 8 in 10 people are rejected when they ask for houses. There are colonies specifically meant for Muslims; they are separated from the rest of the society. Muslims cannot freely identify themselves in Coimbatore. How is this democratically healthy for a society?” he asks.

TNT’s plot follows a team of journalists working to uncover the truth behind the 1997 Coimbatore riots.

“The entire film has been shot in a spy-camera point of view. The narrative is quite experimental and we have received both positive and negative feedback so far,” says Aravind.

Aravind claims that on November 29, 1997 a police constable was murdered.

“The murder was done by a few members who belonged to an important outfit and it happened without the knowledge of this outfit. The killing happened coincidentally. This led to a communal clash and 18 Muslims were killed in 2 days by an artificial riot induced by the police. 12 to 13 of them were killed in police firing and the others by Hindutva outfits. Later a bomb was planted as a pattern of revenge and the rest is history as we know it. But the story isn’t complete,” alleges Aravind.

Aravind and his team scoured through pages of the Gokulakrishnan Committee report, PUCL findings, FIR reports, newspaper clippings and also spoke to victims' families.

“We wanted to present the entire truth and not just one person’s view," he says.

This was the argument Aravind alleges that he presented to CBFC when they observed that the film was being one-sided.

“Will a Judge ever split his verdict? There is right and wrong and there are no two ways about it. The certifying board might be restricted by bureaucracy but we’ve tried to deliver a hard-hitting political cinema. There has to be an organic political movement in cinema, given the state’s present political climate,” he shares.

Ever since news of TNT spread, the team has allegedly been receiving threats.

“A year and a half ago, when the trailer released, CB CID began calling our neighbours. They also called us saying they wanted to watch the film. We refused saying that’s what the CBFC was for. We also had to shift our office because of the threats,” reveals Aravind.

Director Kamalakannan, who received critical acclaim for his film Madhubanakadai, has played an important role in TNT. The film’s script has been done by Prabhakar Shanmugam and its sound design has been worked upon by Shamir Mohamed. TNT’s cinematography has been done by Francis Rajkumar. Aravind and his team have previously worked in short films and music videos.

TNT is being regarded as Tamil cinema’s first crowd-funded film. “We shot the film with Rs 10 lakhs. The idea was to request 1000 people to contribute Rs 1000 each. But we managed to make only Rs 5 lakhs and the rest we pooled in to finish,” shares Aravind.

The director is currently in talks with film associations to help with private screenings. “There are two good theatres in Coimbatore and both have refused to play our film. We will keep knocking,” he tells TNM.

When TNM reached out to actor Gautami, who is a board member of the CBFC, she said, “Everything that had to be conveyed to Aravind with regard to his film’s certification was done when his film came up for review.” She also added, “Any panel that I’ve been a part of will not ask “why now?” when it comes to certifying films.”

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