Lyca Productions, the producers of the Rajinikanth film Darbar, have issued a statement from their official Twitter handle that they have removed certain dialogues from the film for causing “hurt” to some people. The dialogues have to do with prisoners going out of the jail while still serving their sentence.
Lyca said that the dialogues had been included purely for entertainment and not to cause offence.
In the film, Rajinikanth’s character, Aaditya Arunasalam, plays the Mumbai Commissioner of Police. He succeeds in arresting the kingpin of the drug mafia, the son of a rich businessman. However, later, when he goes to jail, he finds that someone else has taken the kingpin’s place in the cell while he is roaming around free. When discussing this with his colleague, the other officer remarks to the effect that in the south too, he’s heard of a prisoner who keeps doing this. There’s also another line when the officer says that you can even go shopping when in jail if you have the money power.
The reference was clearly to Sasikala, aide to late TN Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who is currently serving a four-year jail term for a disproportionate assets case. In August 2017, CCTV footage of Sasikala and her relative Ilavarasi allegedly flouting prison rules was released. Ilavarasi is also serving jail-term. Following allegations of corruption made by ex-DIG of Prisons D Roopa, a one-man commission was set up to investigate the matter. The Vinay Kumar commission report, which TNM accessed at the time, said that Sasikala and Ilavarasi had a corridor to themselves in the Bengaluru Central Prison when they were lodged there in 2017; they had free movement inside the prison; and they met visitors for several hours at a time, completely against the prison rules. One of the clips also showed them going out of the female barrack with a bag in hand, probably why the "shopping" reference has been made.
In his last film Sarkar, too, director AR Murugadoss had taken potshots at the AIADMK, Sasikala and Jayalalithaa. Following this, there were several protests in Madurai, Coimbatore and other places in Tamil Nadu, seeking the removal of controversial scenes in the movie. Among these, the scene that depicted AR Murugadoss in a cameo, throwing certain articles received as a freebie from the government into the fire, too, was said to have ruffled the feathers of the AIADMK.
Sarkar had Vijay in the lead role and was said to be a strong assertion of his intention to enter politics. In Coimbatore, protesters tore off the banners erected by Vijay fans inside the premises of a theatre and raised slogans against the movie and its producer Kalanidhi Maran. Following similar protests, night shows of the movie were cancelled in many theatres across the state. A complaint was also filed with the Chennai city Police Commissioner demanding action against AR Murugadoss under section 124A (Sedition) of the IPC, for insulting the government of Tamil Nadu. The scenes were finally removed from the film.
While Darbar surprisingly had few political references, this particular one seems to have upset the Sasikala faction.