A spokesperson for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) used North Korea as a metaphor to criticise BJP leaders, after the saffron party's state unit chief asked for cuts in actor Vijay's new movie, Mersal.
Tamilisai Soundarrajan, the BJP's president in Tamil Nadu, said on Thursday that some scenes in Mersal showed GST (Goods and Services Tax) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India scheme in a bad light.
"BJP leaders constantly are under the impression that this is North Korea, where every scene of every movie must have the approval of (the) Supreme Leader! That is why they have no understanding of free speech. If you thought Pahlaj Nihalani was bad, imagine a censor board under (Union Minister) Pon Radhakrishnan," said DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram.
Vijay's father, the filmmaker SA Chandrasekar, defended the film.
"As a citizen of India I am talking. There should be freedom of expression. The censor board, which also has persons with political affiliation(s), cleared it. Then why should they raise the issue now? We can accuse any policy," he told India Today.
"But (the) ruling party cannot ask (for) the scenes to be removed after the movie has been cleared by the censor. How and why are they politicising (the issue?)," he asked.
BJP leader SG Suryah explained why his party was unhappy with Mersal.
"The movie dialogues have been lifted from WhatsApp groups, probably because there is nothing factual. We are protesting because a common man will misunderstand..(our)..schemes," he said.
In the movie, Vijay's character asks, "When Singapore gives free medical treatment to all citizens with 7 per cent GST, why can't India with 28 per cent?"
The BJP's answer: There is no GST on medical care in India.
Vijay's character also notes that there is no GST on liquor, but there is a 12 per cent tax on medicines.
Suryah said state governments asked for exemptions for liquor and petroleum. "But states have heavy tax(es). In Tamil Nadu, it's 58 per cent and goes up to 150 per cent based on the brand," he said.
The BJP isn't alone in criticising Mersal. Sources say doctors' associations in Tamil Nadu are unhappy with the way members of their profession have been portrayed in the film.
WATCH | Official teaser trailer of Vijay's Mersal (Video courtesy: Sony Music India/YouTube)