People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has slammed the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the makers of Tamil film Kadaikutty Singam for a rekla (bullock cart race) scene in the film.
In a statement to the media, the animal rights organisation said, “The pre-shoot permission and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to the producers of Tamil film Kadaikutty Singam to use real bulls to film a rekla race scene apparently violated the 2014 Supreme Court of India’s judgment as well as the MoEFCC notification GSR 528(E), dated 11 July 2011, which clearly states that bulls cannot be exhibited or trained as performing animals – including for use in films.”
Director Pandiraj’s Kadaikutty Singam, starring Karthi, Sayyesshaa Sehgal and Priya Bhavanishankar, released on July 13.
The statement is in response to actor Priya Bhavanishankar’s comments at the film’s ‘success meet’, where she criticized PETA for being a ‘corporate protector.’
She said, “There's a race at the beginning the film with bulls. And in another scene, the villain's group hacks and kills the bull. The director would have the shot the scene as though the whole village is crying. Like a grief in our homes. Our culture is so beautiful that we see (bulls) as our own relatives, as our brother. But PETA and other corporate protectors say that we have tortured them and tried to stop it. We never spoke about it in the film. The director strongly shows that it is a relative. I really liked that. That's the director's feeling towards the movie.”
The statement also says, “PETA India had informed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the AWBI and CBFC regarding this. PETA India’s recent investigation into illegal Rekla races held in Kolumakondan village in Dindigul district on 21 January and in S Kumarapalayam town in Coimbatore district on 4 February, show bulls being electro shocked, roughly pulled by their nose ropes and beaten and jabbed with nail-tipped, pointed wooden sticks and their tails being bitten and yanked to make them run faster.”
‘AWBI at fault’
In February this year, the AWBI denied permission for the shoot, which involved 211 cows and oxen, 48 cocks and 32 avians, stating that the Supreme Court had banned the sport.
However, the producers of the film went ahead and shot the sequence. Actor Suriya, Karthi's brother, had even tweeted a video of the shoot on January 30, which he later deleted.
According to PETA, the AWBI granted a No Objection Certificate for the film.
Speaking to TNM, Nikunj Sharma, Associate Director of Policy at PETA, said, “Kadaikutty Singam apparently shows a rekla race scene. The AWBI issued an NOC for the film. We wrote to them saying they cannot do this. The AWBI wrote back to us saying the animals were made to walk, not run. But the fact of the matter is that an animal cannot be used for any performance, whether it is to walk, run or jog. We asked the AWBI to revoke the NOC but sadly, they delayed and the movie got released. The AWBI is at fault, they should not have given the NOC.”
‘Don’t confuse jallikattu ordinance with rekla’
In January 2017, following massive protests at Marina beach in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu government passed an ordinance that allowed the conduct of the bull taming sport, by amending the Prevention of Cruelty Act for the state.
However, Nikunj points out that this was only for jallikattu and not rekla.
“The 2011 notification clearly states that bulls cannot be used as performing animals. And the same was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2014 and in 2016. The Tamil Nadu government in an RTI response categorically states that rekla races cannot be held in the state of Tamil Nadu. They do not come under the ambit of the law that permits jallikattu. So people should not confuse the law that permits jallikattu with rekla. The Tamil Nadu government clearly says rekla remains banned in the state,” he says.
Animal rights activist Antony Rubin had told TNM earlier, “Jallikattu and rekla were both banned by the SC. But due to the Marina protests, the state government passed an amendment and issued a gazette that jallikattu is allowed in all the already existing regions. But they never mentioned anything about rekla races.”