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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Thalaivaa to open tomorrow, Madras Café may face trouble

Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times  Chennai, August 19, 2013
First Published: 09:52 IST(19/8/2013) | Last Updated: 18:14 IST(19/8/2013)

The Vijay-starrer Thalaivaa (Leader) will open in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on August 20. Cinemas have begun issuing tickets. The picture also has Amla Paul playing opposite Vijay.

The film was to have been released in these two territories on August 9, but threat letters from a hitherto unheard of political organisation to theatres in Chennai led to Thalaivaa being banned for the time being.

However, the movie opened in other countries and even outside Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. The result of this was only to be expected: pirated disks of the film were freely available in Chennai and Pondicherry, which is known as the "Piracy Capital of India", where illegal disks of generally South Indian movies are allegedly made in their thousands.

But, what was the real reason for Thalaivaa facing this roadblock.  According to some sources, the Tamil Nadu All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Government under Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was not in favour of the film's tagline, Time to Lead.  This has now been removed from all publicity posters, and Thalaivaa itself will begin without this tag.

In the meantime, another movie, Shoojit Sircar's (Vicky Donor) Madras Café, which also seemed to run into a storm, will hopefully open in Tamil Nadu on August 23.

The Madras High Court Bench has dismissed a petition which sought to stop the release of Madras Café, because it reportedly showed Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in bad light and that this could cause a law and order problem in Tamil Nadu.

Starring John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri, the film is a political thriller set in the late 1980s and early 1990s against the backdrop of the Sri Lankan civil war and the murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the outskirts of Chennai as he was about to address a political meeting.

Madras Café is a fictionalised account - though inspired by real events -- which seems to suggest that Gandhi was killed because he wanted peace on the island nation. The title too refers to an imaginary restaurant in London where the conspiracy for the political assassination was said to have been formulated.

Abraham portrays an officer of the Research and Analysis Wing.

Originally titled Jaffna, Madras Café deals with a subject (Sri Lankan Tamils) which has always been sensitive in Tamil Nadu, particularly among some political parties.

(Jaffna is a city in Sri Lanka, which has had a troubled history. Populated largely by Tamils, the city was occupied by Prabhakaran's rebel outfit, LTTE,  the Indian Peacekeeping Force and the Sri Lankan Military during various times in the past.)

But Madras Café could still face obstacles. Members of some Tamil nationalist outfits, who saw Madras Café, screened specially for them on Sunday, are likely to try and stop the movie from opening this Friday.

In a report published in The Hindu on August 19, Seeman, leader of Naam Tamizhar Party (We Are Tamils), said that Madras Café "denigrates Tamils and their struggle for independence".

In the past, some Tamil films which spoke for the Sri Lankan Tamils were not given screening certificates by the Central Board of Film Certification. So, the argument is why should Madras Café which is unfavourable to the Tamil cause be shown.

Be that as it may, cinema appears to be having a tough time in a State which adores the medium and has always been enamoured -- like no other place -- of movie heroes and heroines. Even building temples for them and anointing their wooden posters.   Four Chief Ministers, including the present one, have had their beginnings in the world of films.

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