Kerala is no place for communal forces to play games: CM Pinarayi on demolition of film set

Actors, producers and filmmakers react against the demolition of a church set raised for ‘Minnal Murali’ by Hindu groups.
Minnal Murali church set
Minnal Murali church set
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Kerala is not a land where communal forces can play their game, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said about the destruction of a church set built as part of a film shooting in Kalady. "Strict action will be taken against them," he said.

Members of right wing Hindu groups - Antharashtra Hindu Parishad (AHP) and Antharashtra Bajrang Dal - demolished the set, which was erected for Minnal Murali, a film with Tovino Thomas in the lead.

The film's director Basil Joseph told TNM that they had got all official permissions -- from the panchayat, the local temple as well as the irrigation department -- before building the set.

Producer Sophia Paul wrote on Facebook that the film - a superhero project -- had required almost two years pre-production. A major part of the film was shot when the team had to stop shooting with the COVID-19 breakout.

"The next schedule is planned in Kalady and we have had constructed a massive set of a church where the climax was to be shot. Unfortunately due to the pandemic we couldn’t resume the shoot and was waiting for government guidance regarding the permissions to resume shoot.

The set at Kalady was planned and built for one of our most important scene. All required permissions to build the set at the location was taken.

Today’s incident is so unfortunate and a colossal loss," Sophia wrote.

The film’s lead actor Tovino Thomas wrote that the reasons cited by those who destroyed the sets cannot make sense. “We’ve heard of movie sets being vandalised by religious fanatics in Northern parts of India. Now, it’s happening to us right here.

It has caused us a lot of distress, and even more of anxiety. We have decided to go ahead with the legal proceedings,” Tovino wrote.

Other reactions

Producer, director and general secretary of the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) B Unnikrishnan wrote that anti-social elements have destroyed the sets which were built spending lakhs of rupees and after taking all the necessary permissions. "How bad would be communal virus inside these people who have set out to destroy a film set with intolerance at a time the whole world is fighting a pandemic with no differences of race, colour or caste," Unnikrishnan wrote.

Actor Rima Kallingal also reacted on Facebook. “At a time when we should all stand together these AHP elements spreading hate should be stopped at all cost. Such intolerance is not taking us anywhere,” she wrote.

Filmmaker Aashiq Abu wrote that Malayalam cinema would come together as one to fight this act of terror. "Sangh terrorists who get excited even on seeing a film set should be stopped. Solidarity to the Minnal Murali team," he wrote.

Actor Aju Varghese also posted pictures of the demolished set and wrote that lakhs of rupees were spent on raising the sets and it was the work of a producer, production designer and hundreds of people. "This (as shown in the photos) is how it looks now. And the reason is even more shocking," Aju wrote.

Directors Ranjith Sankar, Dijo Jose Antony and others have also reacted against the demolition.

Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham or PuKaSa (Progressive Arts & Literary Organisation), an association of artists, writers and literature enthusiasts, has also condemned the attack on the set. "The Sangham strongly opposes this attack which is part of the actions against art and literature by Sangh Parivar and parties. Strict action should be taken against such anti social elements which are trying to destroy the unity among people during the COVID-19 fight and create a sense of insecurity," wrote Shaji N Karun, veteran filmmaker and president of PuKaSa. He also called on people to recognise and stop the religious terrorism against a democratic art form.

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