Under fire for the poor show by his debut band Lalisom at the 35th National Games opening ceremony in Thiruvananthpuram on Saturday, south Indian superstar Mohanlal has decided to return Rs 1.63 crore he charged for the event.
Mohanlal's his three-hour musical nite at the Green Field stadium in Thiruvananthapuram invited sharp criticism from many quarters including his own fans association.
Soon after the programme ended, many uploaded video clippings of the event on social media. It showed the actor crooning and lip-syncing to a recorded audio tape. Later, the actor admitted that some parts of the programme were recorded.
Interestingly, well-known singers including Hariharan, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Karthik and MG Sreekumar were present but they sang only one or two songs leaving the superstar to take the centrestage 'singing' a majority of the songs.
"When a major musical band that had been planned failed to come through, authorities approached me and requested the service of my newly floated Lalisom," the actor said in his mail to state sports minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrisnan. "The controversy hurt me badly. I was asked to do the programme at the eleventh hour. Since it invited sharp criticism I will return the money hoping that controversy will die on its own," he said.
But the government is in a fix whether to accept the money or not. "It seems the actor is really upset. We will take a decision after the return of the CM from Delhi," the Sports Minister said. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is in Delhi for assembly poll campaigning.
Interestingly, some of the ruling front MLAs also joined the bandwagon criticising Lalisom for spoiling the inaugural ceremony. Well-known percussionist Mattanur Shankarankutty (Chenda maestro), who was present at the event, said he would have done a better job if he was offered only half of the amount given to the star.
However, Mohanlal added that the money was taken to pay artists and those who worked behind the scenes. Besides, the remuneration for celebrity singers and Russian dancers, money was spent on rehearsal, orchestration, mixing and studio fee. He said he would pay the entire money from his account hoping that the controversy would end soon.