After a relentless campaign by the Boya community, who objected to the title of Varun Tej’s Valmiki, the film’s title has been changed to Gaddhalakonda Ganesh, just a day before the film’s release. The title was changed on Thursday night after some groups from the Boya community threatened to protest in Anantapur and Kurnool districts, following which the district collectors had sought the filmmakers to resolve the issue.
The Boya community, who claim to be the descendants of the sage Valmiki, who wrote the mythological book Ramayana, took offence to the film’s title claiming that their sentiments were hurt. The community, categorised as Scheduled Tribes in the state, worship Valmiki as a deity. When film’s title was announced, the Boya community began objecting to the film’s release and demanded that the title be changed. Further, they even approached the Telangana High Court seeking a stay on the film. However, the court declined to consider the plea. They also approached political parties seeking their support.
Addressing the media, an emotional Harish Shankar, director of the film, said that he was upset that the groups who took offence to the film’s title had not even seen the film. The director said that they were willing to show their film to them before the release, however, they remained adamant on the title change.
“After the film’s release, if someone had raised objections, we would have given explanations or changed those objectionable scenes, but creating such disturbances without even seeing the film is definitely upsetting. I am hurt that they were unable to understand,” Harish Shankar said.
The director further expressing his disappointment, noting, “For the first time, I felt like I have lost, not as an individual, writer or a director; as a person belonging to the Hindu community, the respect I have for Valmiki maharshi... I feel like I have failed in not being able to take a good thing forward.”
Announcing the title change he said, “The film’s title has been changed to Gaddhalakonda Ganesh. We stopping all the publicity material (with Valmiki title) and sending fresh material with the changed title.”
Meanwhile, despite the title change, according to reports, the film’s release was stalled in Anantapur and Kurnool.
Gaddhalakonda Ganesh is the remake of the Tamil film Jigarthanda. The film stars actor Varun Tej, Pooja Hegde and Atharvaa Murali.