Why do bans and protests against some movies suddenly die down?

Why do bans and protests against some movies suddenly die down?
Why do bans and protests against some movies suddenly die down?
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Sameera Ahmed| The News Minute| September 17, 2014| 5.30 pm IST

It has almost become routine that when there is a movie release - big or small, there is some or the other group that protests. Religious sentiments are hurt, cultural ties are affected, derogatory words are used, and people are agitated- the reason for protests against a movie could be all or one of the above.

We are not saying that all the protests are false and motivated. But talk to insiders in the movie industry and you will know that many of the protests are engineered and follow the blackmail trail.

One such movie that has been facing protests recently is actor Vijay-starrer “Kaththi", the movie to be released during Diwali had seen many groups up in arms, but some seem to have backed off, which brings to the forefront speculation about how such protests and bans against movies are settled.

Kaththi, a Tamil movie starring Vijay and Samantha Ruth Prabhu is facing strong protests from student organizations and political parties for its alleged Sri Lankan connections with President Rajapaksa. In August, 65 organizations including political parties and student fringe groups joined together to protest against two movies, ‘Kaththi’ and ‘Puli Paarvai’ over its Sri Lankan connection. 

It was already known that Kaththi was being produced by Lyca Productions, who’s CEO Subaskaran Allrajah was allegedly connected to Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa. Though Lyca's name surfaced in January 2014 as the movie's producer, and despite the fact that the movie started shooting during early 2014, it was only in August, just a few months before its release that protests demanding its ban were held. 

"It is only understandable what the intentions are when protests intensify when a movie is about to be released. Look at the case of Kaththi, some of those who initially protested against the movie are now silent on the issue of the ban. So it can only be deduced that some sort of an understanding has been reached", says an industry insider.

The trend of movies facing bans and protests just a few months before its release is not something new. Tamil Nadu has seen a number of movies in the past such as Vishwaroopam, Dam999 and Thalaivaa facing protests and bans in the past. Aamir Khan’s latest venture PK, which raised quite a few eyebrows because of its quirky posters faced a petition calling from a ban from a group on grounds of obscenity. The petition has since been dismissed. Even Ram-Leela starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone faced protests and a demand for a ban from Hindu fundamentalist groups.

There are many organizations that protest, but how many movies actually get stalled completely? What happens? How is a compromise reached?

A movie insider says, “Money is paid in many cases. Not huge amounts, but most time it is a few lakhs.”

It is not just such protests that movies face, politically too the reasons are aplenty. Tamil Nadu’s close relationship between the film industry and its political leadership is well-known. When Kamal Hassan’s Vishwaroopam was banned, rumours were that TN CM Jayalaithaa was upset with him for saying that a dhoti clad person (P. Chidambaram) will be the next PM of India. This was later denied by Jayalalithaa herself.

Even in Vijay’s case, there is a strain in relations with the ruling party. Kaththi is not the only movie causing trouble for Vijay, the main lead in the movie. In 2013, his movie Thalaivaa was banned at the last minute before its release in Tamil Nadu.

“It isn’t easy for movie producers. But most of them know what they are getting into and there are negotiators who talk on their behalf. They know that many protesters need to be paid off, and that is done." said the source.

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