Here's a list of five videos that became the talk of the town on Tamil social media in this lockdown period.

A collage of actor Vanitha Vijaykumar looking angry and actor-director Lakshmy Ramakrishnan with folded hands
Flix Controversy Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 16:48

Though life may have come to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic, there's no dearth of controversies on social media.

In Tamil Nadu, the lockdown period has seen several videos that have been hotly discussed online. The subjects of these videos range from religion, caste and politics to people's personal lives.

Here's a list of five such videos that recently became the talk of the town on Tamil social media.

Vanitha and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan face-off video: Actor Vanitha Vijaykumar's wedding with visual effects supervisor Peter Paul has been the subject of controversy ever since Vanitha made the announcement. She was first shamed for marrying for the third time and kissing Peter in front of her children.

Then came the news that Peter was yet to divorce his first wife Elizabeth Helen, from whom he's been separated for several years. This soon blew up into a major controversy, with people taking sides and Elizabeth Helen giving her account on YouTube channels. Vanitha also put up her own video along with Peter Paul to give their account. Next, actor-director Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, known for hosting the controversial talk show Solvathellam Unmai, spoke to Elizabeth Helen on the Behindwoods YouTube channel.

This conversation, in which aspersions were cast on Vanitha and Peter Paul, did not go down well with the former. Moreover, Lakshmy made it clear that her sympathies lie with Elizabeth. In yet another video on Behindwoods, Vanitha and Lakshmy had a conversation that devolved into a full-blown mudslinging match.

The video has generated several memes and discussions on social media, with people taking sides with Lakshmy Ramakrishnan or Vanitha. Meanwhile, Behindwoods has said that they will not be doing live interviews on the subject any more. On Twitter though, the battle is far from over. Actor Kasthuri has also jumped into the bandwagon, supporting Lakshmy.

Karuppar Koottam video on Kanda Sashti Kavasam: The rationalist YouTube channel came under fire after a video they had done on the Kanda Sashti Kavasam became the point of outrage on social media.

The song, a popular prayer in Tamil Nadu, is in praise of Lord Murugan and a part of it is an appeal to protect all the parts of the body. In a video, Surendra Natarajan of the Karuppar Koottam discussed the lines which are about the genitals and excretory organs, asking if devotees did not find such language obscene.

Several people took offence at Surendra's choice of words, including the BJP, which filed a police complaint against the YouTuber. Hindu groups also asked for a ban on the YouTube channel. 'Counter' videos to the Karuppar Koottam's take on the Kanda Sashti Kavasam by various people, including celebrities, were made, even as the team received support from other rationalists.

Surendra Natarajan surrendered before the Central Crime Branch police of Tamil Nadu in Puducherry a few days ago. On Tuesday, all videos from the YouTube channel were removed by the Crime Branch.

Madhuvanti's video on the BJP's achievements during the pandemic: Actor and educationist Madhuvanti, currently state executive committee member of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, has been making several videos on YouTube under the 'Be Positive' series.

She previously courted controversy for making unscientific claims about the coronavirus, spreading misinformation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's request to the people to light diyas and bang plates, would help vanquish the virus.

However, it was her video on the BJP's achievements during the pandemic which became truly viral. Madhuvanti made statements like 8,000 crore people in India had benefited from the Ujjwala scheme of the Modi government when there are less than 800 crore people in the entire world. There were several other mathematical errors in her video which led to much mirth on social media. This was especially so since she had earlier claimed in a controversial interview that Brahmins were very good at maths and had defended her caste pride.

Modi and a Beer short film: Dhinah Chandra Mohan's short film, released on Neelam's YouTube channel, was hotly discussed on social media, particularly in progressive circles. The short film is about a couple who meet for a meal.

The woman, a conservative Brahmin, tries to control her boyfriend's eating and drinking habits, making casteist comments casually. The man, who comes from an intermediate caste, is a Periyarist who objects to her Hindutva leanings. Their heated discussion turns into a big argument and the man ends up making sexist comments about the woman, though he had claimed to be a feminist. The film ends with them breaking up.

While many viewers read the film as a take on how even supposedly progressive men can be misogynistic, several others felt that the film excused the woman's casteism and did not call out her prejudices enough. Many users wrote their views on the film on social media, expressing their support for it or explaining why they disagreed.

Kamal Haasan's comment on Thyagarajar: In a conversation with actor Vijay Sethupathi, actor-politician Kamal Haasan said that legendary composer Thyagarajar had been "begging in praise of Lord Rama." He was speaking in the context of artistes and the need to earn a livelihood.

However, several people objected to the comment, especially Carnatic musicians. Vocalist Palghat Ramprasad launched an online petition, demanding an apology from Kamal. The petition attracted nearly 30,000 signatures. Several other musicians lashed out against Kamal on social media.

However, those supporting Kamal said that the actor-politician did not mean anything derogatory when he made the remark on Thyagarajar, and pointed out that he had in fact contrasted the commercial art of cinema with that of what Thyagarajar did. Others, however, said that using the term 'begging' for Unchavrithi (a practice in which those who have chosen the path of renunciation collect grains, pulses etc from willing devotees) was deliberate and offensive.