Canada-based magician Raman Sharma, who worked in Vijay's 2017 blockbuster Mersal, is livid with the makers for still not paying his dues.
He recently tweeted to the film's co-producer Hema Rukmani, referring to her social media posts in which she’s seen flaunting shopping bags and posing with family in European countries, and demanded that she settle his dues immediately. Raman had trained actor Vijay to perform the magic tricks we saw on screen and had also helped director Atlee in writing the magic sequences.
“Hope your enjoying Paris as many of my friends who worked for your unethical company are in a financial mess! Those tickets for your trip were bought with the blood, sweat, and tears of many hard workers (sic),” he wrote in his recent tweet.
I couldn’t agree with you more @sumitd91! Hope your enjoying Paris as many of my friends who worked for your unethical company are in a financial mess! Those tickets for your trip were bought with the blood, sweat, and tears of many hard workers. @ChennaiTimesTOI @News18TamilNadu pic.twitter.com/nZa9rdNSVt— Raman Sharma Magic (@RamanMagic) September 4, 2019
On a phone call with TNM, Raman sounds incredulous. “Is this how someone who is already in a financial tight spot, if what they claim is true, goes about spending their money? Purchasing stuff from Louis Vuitton while the rest of us who worked hard are owed money?” he asks. While Mersal released on October 17 that year, Raman is yet to receive his full payment, almost two years later.
As of June this year, Raman says he is owed Rs 5,31,200 (including interest and minus the Rs 1 lakh paid as advance) by Thenandal Studios, Mersal’s producers. In January this year, the 36-year-old magician was forced to fly down to Chennai from Canada, employ a lawyer and send the production house a notice demanding the rest of his payment under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
So I had to hire a lawyer all the way in Chennai from Canada because I trusted the corrupt production house known as @ThenandalFilms These cowards still have not paid me and are hiding in there little hole. Little do they know I will not stop. #cowards #foolingpeople #thug pic.twitter.com/CE53VX3t2V— Raman Sharma Magic (@RamanMagic) January 19, 2019
In one of the opening shots from the film, the actor performs a number of magic tricks as he packs his suitcase inside a huge garage. One of Vijay’s characters in this film (he played three different characters in Mersal) is a magician and therefore, the film had plenty of such tricks to excite his fans. According to a Forbes report, Mersal's gross worldwide collection was Rs 250 crores.
“I travelled with the crew to several places and worked with them for many months when Mersal was being filmed. We entered into an agreement on March 17, 2017 and I was to be paid a total amount of Rs 4,32,000 on the whole. I received an advance of Rs 1 lakh at the time of signing the agreement. H Murali (one of the producers) promised me that I would receive the rest of my payment before the film releases,” Raman tells TNM. In his notice, he says he worked on the film from March 17 to November 26, 2017.
In November 2018, Raman put out a video on his Twitter account, explaining how he had spent months working on Mersal and was yet to receive his payment from Thenandal Studios close to a year since the film’s release. “The most interesting thing is, this movie has to do with ethics and corruption. How ethical is this? You’ve promised me something and you’re not been able to deliver on it,” he says in the video.
Raman further alleges that November 2018 was the last time he heard from the production house. “In fact, Murali threatened me asking me to take down the video. He said, ‘people will eventually forget it, but if you don’t take it down we’ll never pay you’. All my calls to them so far have been unanswered,” he claims.
He further says, “I know many others who are owed an amount that’s lesser than mine by the Mersal producers, but they do not want me to reveal their names. My situation might not be so grave but the same cannot be said for them. What Thenandal Studios is doing is very unethical.”
The magician who was in Chennai recently regarding the case also visited Atlee and Vijay on the sets of Bigil but says he did not find the need to bring the payment issue up. “I don’t think it concerns them. Thenandal Studios has duped many others and my gripe is with them,” he says.
While there were reports of Thenandal Studios facing financial troubles soon after releasing Mersal, there has been lack of clarity on their financial status since.
The production house has quite a few pending projects including one with Dhanush and Ashwin Saravanan’s Iravaakalam.
Born and raised in Canada to Indian parents, Raman has been travelling around the world and performing magic tricks for the past 12 years. While Mersal was his very first film experience, the magician tells us that it has left a sour taste. “Although I love the people of Chennai and loved working with Vijay and Atlee, I don’t think I’ll ever work in a Tamil film again,” he adds.
TNM tried to contact Thenandal Productions for a comment but did not receive any response. This story will be updated if and when they get back.