The legal notice asked those behind the film to “cease and desist from making or publishing any false, malicious and defamatory remarks against (the Vanniyar) community and its people.”

Screengrab from the movie Jai Bhim showing Suriya dressed up as a lawyer in a courtroom. Screenshot from the movie Jai Bhim
Flix Controversy Monday, November 15, 2021 - 12:05

The Vanniyar Sangam State President has issued a legal notice to actor Suriya and TJ Gnanavel, the director of Jai Bhim demanding that the makers of the film tender an unconditional apology and remove scenes which they dubbed defamatory. The legal notice also asked those behind the film to “cease and desist from making or publishing any false, malicious and defamatory remarks against (the Vanniyar) community and its people.” The notice also sought damages in Rs 5 crore “within a period of seven days from the time and date of receipt of this notice.”

The legal notice alleges that though the incidents represented in the movie are based on real life events, the character of the policeman who tortures Rajakannu has been deliberately depicted as belonging to the Vanniyar caste. The Vanniyars are a Most Backward caste that are particularly dominant in northern Tamil Nadu. They have political clout through the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), founded by S Ramadoss. 

“Our client states that you have retained the real names of the real characters in the real incident in the movie … But deliberately you have changed the name of the sub-inspector. In the real story, the sub-inspector  who is involved in the custodial death of the under trial was called Anthonysamy, who was Christian by religion,” the notice says.

It further alleges that the filmmakers had deliberately placed a calendar with the “agni kudam” symbol associated with Vanniyar Sangam in the scene, in order to depict the said sub-inspector as Vanniyar. The notice claims that this was done with the “malafide intention of defaming the members of the Vanniyar Sangam and damaging the image and reputation of the entire Vanniyar community.”

Others named in the notice are actor Jyotika, who is also Suriya’s wife, 2D Entertainment Private Limited (Suriya and Jyotika’s production house) and a representative of

Read: Jai Bhim: Police protection given to Suriya's Chennai home after threats

Last week, Suriya issued a statement saying that neither he, nor his film unit had any intention of insulting any individual or community as alleged by PMK leader and former Union Health Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss. Responding to the series of questions posed by the PMK leader on Jai Bhim, Suriya said in a statement: "The core concept of Jai Bhim is how, in a case argued by the retired Justice Chandru, a legal struggle was waged against the authorities to help establish justice. We have also attempted to talk about the problems that indigenous people face in their everyday lives."

Read: Don't criticise Suriya: South Indian Film Chamber to PMK amid Jai Bhim row

Refuting the allegation that the unit of Jai Bhim had insulted a particular community in a planned manner, Suriya said, "Neither my team, nor I have ever harboured any intention at any point in time to insult any individual or community as mentioned by you in your letter. I hope you are aware that corrections were carried out as soon as some people pointed out mistakes."

The statement was addressed to Dr Ramadoss, whose party represents primarily the Vanniyar community. Suriya signed off saying, "Let us all continue in our respective paths for equality and brotherhood to grow."

Jai Bhim review: Suriya’s courtroom drama is disturbing, well-enacted

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