Poster of Jai Bhim with Suriya in the foreground, looking pensive
Poster of Jai Bhim with Suriya in the foreground, looking pensive

Don't criticise Suriya: South Indian Film Chamber to PMK amid Jai Bhim row

In a letter to Ambumani Ramadoss, the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce President said that he was "pained by the fact that your party cadres continue to criticise Suriya."

Coming out strongly in support of its member, actor and producer Suriya, the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce on Monday, November 15, asked PMK leader and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss to refrain from criticising the actor over his film Jai Bhim. In a letter to Ramadoss, South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce President Katragadda Prasad pointed out that Suriya had acceded to his request for removal of a symbol from the Tamil film that was recently released on OTT platform, Amazon Prime Video.

"Respecting your feelings, our member Suriya immediately removed that symbol from the film," Prasad said. "The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce is pained by the fact that your party cadres continue to criticise Suriya despite neither the hero of the film nor the production house having anything to do with the decision to use that symbol in the film," the President of the Chamber said.

The South Indian Film Chamber pointed out that Suriya, who did not have any political, caste or religious affiliations, was a socially responsible philanthropist and an advocate for equality in education. Prasad urged Ramadoss not to criticise the actor in view of this.

The PMK had taken offence to the portrayal of the Vanniyar community in Jai Bhim, which they alleged was “insulting”. On Sunday, November 14, a group of PMK workers forced a theatre in Mayiladuthurai district in Tamil Nadu to stop the screening a Suriya film, Vel. The group, led by PMK's Mayiladuthurai district secretary Panneerselvam, also submitted a petition to Mayiladuthurai Superintendent of Police, demanding action against Suriya.

A day later, the Vanniyar Sangam sent a legal notice to makers of actor Jai Bhim movie, alleging that the film tarnished the reputation of the Vanniyar community and sought an unconditional apology from them. Removal of references to a symbol of the Vanniyar community, an apology for "damning, tarnishing and damaging the reputation" of the community, desisting from similar "malicious" moves and payment of Rs 5 crore in damages were the demands made in the legal notice.

The film, though based on a true incident of custodial torture and death of a tribal man in 1995 in Tamil Nadu, contains elements of fiction. The crux of the allegations in the Vanniyar Sangam’s notice is that the Vanniyar community was shown in “poor light, vilified by naming the wicked police sub inspector as 'Guru' (Gurumurthy) and by showcasing the fire pot symbol of the community and these were both criminal and civil defamation”. The notice said that while the real life names of several people were retained in the film, the police Sub-Inspector was named Guru, while the original name of the SI was Anthonysamy.

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