In the wake of demands by the BJP to cut controversial scenes in Vijay’s Deepavali release Mersal, the producers on Saturday stated that they were ready to remove “any views in the film that can create misunderstanding.”
A statement issued by Sri Thenandal Films reads, “We have met senior BJP leaders in person and spoken about the film and told them that the aim of the film is not to hurt anyone. They also accepted our explanation generously.”
Expressing their gratitude to the leaders, the producers go on to state, “Looking at it from their point of view, their opposition seems justified. If there are any views in the film that can create misunderstanding and these need to be removed, we are ready to do it.” However, Hema Rukmani, the owner of the production house tweeted later that they would not remove or mute any of the scenes.
Saturday’s statement comes days after BJP’s state President Tamilisai Soundrajan and other senior leaders demanded the removal of scenes that had taken a dig at the Centre’s initiatives including Digital India and GST.
Sri Thenandal Films’ statement notes that all the BJP leaders they spoke with including Tamilisai appreciated the fact that they wanted to meet them in person to take a decision.
Noting that the film was released as promised for Deepavali despite several obstacles, the statement says, “Even after the film has come out, there have been discussions on it that have caused great pain. Mersal is not against anybody. It’s not a film that voices its views against the government. The point of the film is that it’s a doctor’s dream to see that ordinary people should get good healthcare,” states the producers.
There were two scenes in Mersal that the BJP objected to. In one, Vijay says that people in Singapore get free treatment although the country charges only 7% GST, whereas in India, people are charged 28% GST but still don’t get free treatment.
The other scene that BJP has taken offence to in Mersal, is one where someone tries to rob Vijay and Vadivelu’s characters in a foreign country. Vadivelu then opens his wallet and shows the thief that it’s empty - thanks to Digital India!
Several BJP leaders took on Vijay and his film for its scenes. On Friday, the party’s National Secretary H Raja asked the star to clarify his tax details. In a series of tweets, Raja launched a scathing attack on Vijay, calling his statement in the film a lie. “It's a lie that healthcare is free in Singapore. School education and healthcare is free for the poor in India. Mersal is Joseph Vijayan's opposition to Modi.”
In another tweet, he alluded to the actor’s religion, noting, “Churches built in TN in last 20 yrs - 17500. mosques: 9700. temples: 370. So, what does Vijay want to stop for the building of hospitals?”
Another senior BJP leader L Ganesan also hit out at the actor, pointing out, "It has become a fashion to criticise the government and become popular. But people and nationalists who know the government's good work will not believe it.”
However, Vijay, director Atlee and the producers have received support not just from fans but from the film fraternity as well. Both the Nadigar Sangam and the Producers’ Council issued statements backing the film’s freedom of expression.