A Hindu fringe group in Tamil Nadu ‘requested’ Tamil superstar Rajinikanth not to play the role of Tipu Sultan

From Rahman to Rajini how intolerant groups create controversies to grab attentionLeft: Rajnikanth, Right: A R Rahman
news Saturday, September 12, 2015 - 18:16

In the past couple of days, we have seen two controversies breaking out that show how regular threats, warnings and moral policing of mainstream cinema have become. 

In Tamil Nadu, a Hindu fringe group, which goes by the name Hindu Munnani, ‘requested’ Tamil superstar Rajinikanth not to play the role of Tipu Sultan in a movie being proposed by a Kannada film producer. And in Mumbai, the Raza Academy has initiated a fatwa against renowned music composer AR Rahman for an Iranian movie on Prophet Muhammad.

The reasons, as the usually do, are sectarian and bizarre. Hindu Munnani believes that a movie valorising a ‘fanatical Muslim’ ruler would be an insult to Tamil as he was anti-Tamil. The Hindu reports that the group also said that it would be an insult to former TN CM MG Ramachandran as he had once said that it was due to Tipu Sultan’s attack that MGR’s family was displaced. Several Hindu fundamentalist groups have held in the past that Tipu was a Muslim tyrant whose rule was against the Hindus.

Raza Academy’s reasons are a bit strange. “We are against the title. People may use it in a bad manner if they don’t like the film, which will mean an insult to the Prophet. The actors have charged money to act in the film and they may have dubious character in real life. How can we Muslims allow such things to happen?” asked Saeed Noorie, chief of Raza Academy, which initiated the fatwa that was issued by Muhammad Akhtar – the chief mufti of Mumbai, according to media reports.

While these two stories have grabbed the attention of national media, there have been several instances in Tamil Nadu, for example, where political or fringe groups have threatened to block the release of movies over hurt sentiments and political causes. From Kamal Hassan to Dhanush, no star is spared of these headaches.


But often these protests are not what they seem.

Industry insiders have told The News Minute that in several cases, such protests are attempts to generate publicity for the fringe groups, or even for the movies sometimes. But there have also been threats made in the name of culture, religion or politics only to extort money.

During the controversy surrounding the Tamil movie Kaththi in September 2014, an industry insider had told The News Minute on the condition of anonymity, "It is only understandable what the intentions are when protests intensify when a movie is about to be released. Look at the case of Kaththi, some of those who initially protested against the movie are now silent on the issue of the ban. So it can only be deduced that some sort of an understanding has been reached.”  He further told us as to how money amounting to a few lakhs is paid in most cases to stifle protests.  You can read our story here.

There have also been cases where producers themselves ask fringe groups to make some noise to get free publicity for the movie.

It is quite tragic how the protesting groups, thanks to the media frenzy which ensues, are able to gain enough traction to either bend the will the producers of the movie or extort enough money to let the movie release. In the case of the Raza Academy, the group has even stated that it will reach out to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to demand that the Iranian film be banned in India.

As actress Khushbu pointed out, members of the film industry are also not putting out a united front. “Everybody wants to keep mum on the issue, until it affects them directly, said Khushbu. The problem she says will not be solved till the industry unites against every such instance.


Image courtesy:
Rajnikanth: By Kart777 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
AR Rahman:By http://www.bollywoodhungama.com [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons