Sarkar controversy: Police arrives at AR Murugadoss' house; Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan support film amid AIADMK backlash

Surendhar MK
The Sarkar controversy brings up an important question: Can a director be forced to make cuts in a film which has been legitimately released after getting certification from the Censor Board?

After 2017 Diwali release Mersal, which earned the wrath of BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu for its anti-government dialogues, Vijay's Sarkar has now ruffled feathers in the state. Certain crucial scenes and characters in the movie have upset the ruling AIADMK party ministers. Several party members even took to the streets on Thursday demanding the removal of the controversial sequences from the film.

Just how the Kollywood film fraternity had stood together in support of the makers of Mersal last year, high-profile stars from the Tamil film industry such as Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Vishal also batted for Sarkar and strongly condemned the demands of the party supporters, some of whom even engaged in violence.

Tamil Nadu Information and Broadcasting Minister Kadambur Raju was the first official from the state government to express his displeasure with a few scenes from Sarkar and sought their removal from the film. Now, Tamil Nadu Law Minister CV Shanmugam, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, North Madurai MLA VV Rajan Chellappa, AMMK Founder, and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran also joined forces and lashed out at AR Murugadoss, Vijay and Sun Pictures, the film production arm of Sun Network group owned by Kalanidhi Maran, grand nephew of late former TN Chief Minister and DMK Supremo M Karunanidhi.

The controversial scene in question features AR Murugadoss in a special cameo appearance, throwing away the freebies distributed by the state government into fire during the song 'Oru Viral Puratchi'. Since the free distribution welfare scheme of mixers, grinders, and fans was launched by late former TN Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in her 2011 election manifesto, the party ministers have pointed out that the scene is directly insulting the state government and attempts to malign the image of their leader. The cadres have also taken umbrage at the portrayal of Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, whose character is named Komalavalli, the real name of Jayalalitha before she forayed into politics.

On Thursday, scores of AIADMK supporters staged a protest in front of theaters screening Sarkar and tore down banners of the film. Chennai's Kasi theatre, which is an epicenter for FDFS (First Day First Show), was also vandalised by party members. Madurai, Coimbatore, and Trichy witnessed sporadic protests in several theatre complexes. it led to exhibitors cancelling the matinee shows of the film in specific areas.

After the scale of protests gradually set in motion a series of unwarranted actions from party workers, the makers finally gave in and agreed to remove the objectionable scenes from the film. Popular distributor Tiruppur Subramaniam confirmed saying, "The team has given their consent to remove a few scenes and mute the controversial dialogues which have caused distress to ADMK supporters. They are currently awaiting the clearance of the censor board, and the updated content is most likely to play in theaters from tomorrow (November 9) noon show."

However, all hell broke loose when Sun Pictures sent out a shocking tweet last night stating:

A few minutes later, they added:

At 11:53 PM, Murugadoss took to his Twitter page and again confirmed that police arrived at his doorstep and "banged the door several times".

Kamal Haasan was one of the first people from the industry to defend Sarkar and voice his support for the film. A rough translation of his tweet says: "Employing pressure tactics through its tyrannical power to sabotage a duly certified film like Sarkar is not new to this government. A state which doesn't dare to accept criticism will derail. Power brokers will perish. The righteous people will win." Giving weight to Kamal Haasan's strongly-worded tweet, Superstar Rajinikanth also came out in support for the film and condemned the government. A rough translation of his tweet says: "Once the censor board certifies a film, staging protests to demand the removal of certain scenes, obstructing the screenings, and tampering with the banners are all unlawful activities. I strongly condemn those actions."

Vishal, president of Tamil Film Producers' Council (TFPC) and secretary of South Indian Artistes Association (SIAA), also questioned the demands of the party members to axe the scenes from an already certified film.

Also See: Sarkar director AR Murugadoss denies plagiarism charges: Writer's union is prejudiced against me

Sarkar: Director AR Murugadoss to have cameo in film, starring Vijay Thalapathy

Sarkar: Kerala theatre to screen Vijay's action-thriller for 24 hours on the day of release

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