Two days after an exposé on Savukku Online, a whistleblower website that alleged that actor and Tamil Film Producers Council President Vishal had struck a deal with Lyca Productions, a section of Tamil film producers are up in arms against Vishal.
At a press conference on Sunday, director Bharathiraja, actor T Rajender, actor JK Rithesh and a handful of Tamil film producers slammed Vishal for his leadership of the TFPC, asking what he had delivered since being elected.
Deal with Lyca?
Many producers referenced the exposé which made several startling allegations against the actor who won the the TFPC elections in April 2017. The primary accusation is that Vishal, who promised to root out piracy in the film industry, had struck a deal with Lyca Productions after learning that the company was behind the domain names of several websites that released pirated films. The article points out that Vishal got an exhaustive report from a private investigating agency and approached Lyca Productions for a deal, which then has bankrolled his films since.
Speaking at the press conference, producer K Rajan slammed, “How can you head the producer’s council when you don’t produce any films?”
When TNM questioned the directors on Lyca's alleged connections with Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and why they haven’t condemned Lyca for the deal, director Bharathiraja said, “I am unable to suspect them because Lyca has asked me if we can make a grand movie on the issues of Eelam Tamils. If they didn't care about Eelam Tamils, they would not have asked me that question. I don't know about the allegations. Without concern on Ealam Tamils, there is no way Lyca would have acted like this. Secondly, they want to invest something in the land in which they are born. So they need that government. Other than that, they are not opposed to the Eelam issue."
When questioned about the expose by Savukku Online and why the association was not speaking about Lyca Productions, Bharathiraja said, “That’s different, that is business. Don't confuse the Ealam issue with the business problem.”
K Rajan, another producer, also pitched in and said, "We are condemning the leader of the Tamil Film Producers Council. We don't have to condemn Lyca."
The producers also demanded that the TFPC compensate the losses incurred by producers due to the Tamil film industry strike that banned film work and new releases. The strike over costs paid to Digital Service Providers, had come under fire from within the industry for the favouritism as well as the losses to small films that couldn’t afford to stop production.
A statement released by the producers on Sunday asked, “Decisions taken in the Working Committee have been implemented without the approval of the general committee. How will the TFPC compensate producers for the losses incurred over 45 days? While no efforts have been taken to enhance the coffers of the TFPC, a reserve amount of Rs 7 crore has been squandered. You and the treasurer are answerable for this. While the producers were asked to stop filming, you took actors out of town and made money for the Actor's Association as their General Secretary.”
The producers also pointed out that Prakash Raj and Gautham Vasudev Menon who are both Vice Presidents of the TFPC had not attended a single meeting for the past nine months and that no action has been taken in this regard.
Producer Thirumalai added, "Vishal's Irumbu Thirai is produced by Lyca. They decided to release it in over 300 theatres while Vishal himself had said in one of his meetings that a film can only be released in 220 theatres. Why? Because they wan to set a precedent for Kaala's release. So that when Kaala releases, they can say we have already defied the rule with Vishal's film."
The producers plan to deal with the situation legally. K Rajan further added, "They have to convene the general body meeting first. It is mandatory to conduct general body meetings every 6 month. They cancelled the meeting that was supposed to take place six months ago in Kalaivanar Arangam. They also have to show how RS 7 crore has been spent - they have to present the account statements in the general body meetings. We will deal with this legally."
The Tamil card
In a reference to actor Vishal’s Telugu ancestry, director Bharathiraja said that only a Tamilian should head the TFPC. “Tamil Nadu is fighting for a lot of issues. Similarly, Tamil film producers are also facing trouble. Our demand is that South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce should become Tamil Film Chamber of Commerce. Similarly, the Tamil Film Producers Council should come into the hands of Tamil film producers. The South Indian Film Actors Association should become Tamil Nadu Film Actors Association,” he said.
Speaking to media persons, producer and former Secretary of the TFPC Radhakrishnan said, “It's been nearly 14 months since Vishal was elected to the TFPC. But he has not delivered on any of his promises. On the contrary, because of his decisions, the entire Tamil film industry has been held to ransom and has suffered losses. A meeting was conducted today to discuss this and find solutions.”
In his victory speech after the elections, Vishal had stated that his tenure over the next two years would be the golden period of the council. He also said that he would help the farmers and that he would root out pirated films that release on websites such as Tamilrockers.