'Sarkar' row: Has the AIADMK learnt zero lessons from the BJP's 'Mersal' fiasco?

The controversy over 'Mersal' ensured that the film was in the news, and with 'Sarkar', the AIADMK seems keen to make the film achieve national fame.
'Sarkar' row: Has the AIADMK learnt zero lessons from the BJP's 'Mersal' fiasco?
'Sarkar' row: Has the AIADMK learnt zero lessons from the BJP's 'Mersal' fiasco?
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Whether the public believes actor Vijay will be a political force to reckon with or not, he seems to have already received acknowledgment from politicians in the state that he is a potential threat. If last Deepavali saw the BJP frothing in the mouth about 'Joseph' Vijay and the dialogues in Mersal, this Deepavali, it is the AIADMK which is upset with the actor's Sarkar.

Clearly, no lessons have been learnt from last year's fiasco.

Even though films like NOTA and Tamizh Padam 2 have criticised the current state government directly, it is Sarkar which has riled up the AIADMK. There are two reasons for this - one, it is produced by Sun Pictures, owned by Kalanithi Maran, the grand nephew of late DMK leader Karunanidhi, and two, it stars Vijay, an actor who commands a huge fan following in the state and is viewed as someone who's likely to join politics in future.

But if only the AIADMK were to recall what happened when the BJP tried to mess with Mersal, they might realise that their grand plan is akin to cutting the nose to spite the face. When the BJP's H Raja tweeted the "bitter truth" that Vijay's full name was 'Joseph Vijay', implying that it was the actor's religion which made him star in a film slamming the centre's policies like the GST, digital India, and demonetisation, he was widely ticked off for his bigotry.

Vijay, in fact, signed a thank you note to fans and others who'd supported him, with his full Christian name, putting H Raja in his place. Mersal went on to rake about Rs 250 crores worldwide, becoming only the third Tamil film to do so. While the film took a big opening because of Vijay, the BJP's nitpicking and cantankerous behaviour made sure that the film was in the news and achieved national fame. It's difficult to put a figure to it but one can safely assume that several people who had no plans of watching the film in the theatre went to see it out of curiosity.

Further, though the BJP succeeded in getting the makers to eventually remove certain dialogues from Mersal, those very scenes began doing the rounds on the internet and went viral. It's true that not all of the information in Mersal was well-researched and authentic, but by adopting an aggressive stance, all the BJP succeeded in doing was to ensure more people watched and heard the incorrect information. And by making personal attacks on Vijay, they turned even his usual detractors (including Ajith fans) to his allies.

Does the AIADMK seriously believe that by getting the makers to remove the controversial scenes they will no longer be remembered by the public? Do they not realise that not only will the public watch the scenes leaked online (Tamil Rockers had leaked Sarkar on Day 1), they will also remember how high-handed the AIADMK was in registering their objections?

Haven't they seen yet that memes that show the controversial scene, where Murugadoss and others are throwing freebies into the fire, are already viral? And that by asking the name 'Komalavalli' to be removed, they are making sure that every person who watches the film will now relate Varalaxmi Sarathkumar's character to former AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa? Even those who did not know at all that the late CM's original name was believed to be Komalavalli?

Sarkar opened to mixed reviews but the AIADMK's tactics of breaking cut-outs and harassing theatre owners may very well ensure that Sun Pictures laughs its way to the bank. It will also add several inches to Vijay's already tall stature in the state. If the public begins to look at him as a leader capable of questioning the status quo, Vijay has the AIADMK to thank for.

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