Director S S Rajamouli today sought to distance himself and his Baahubali 2 team from comments allegedly made by actor Sathyaraj that have led to a protest against the film’s release in Karnataka.
Rajamouli said the filmmakers were in no way related to the remarks made by Sathyaraj. “The producer and I want to clarify on the issue... The comments must have pained some of you but we don’t have any relation to it. Those were (his) personal comments and were made some nine years ago,” the director said in a video message on his official Twitter page.
The controversy broke out after a video in which Sathyaraj allegedly made “derogatory” comments against Kannada activists went viral.
Sathyaraj, who plays the role of Kattappa in the multi- lingual drama, made the alleged anti-Kannada comments during the Cauvery River row between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka about nine years ago. Sathyaraj is from Tamil Nadu. Rajamouli said the team was unaware of the actor’s remarks till it saw a video on a social media site. He also pointed out that many of Sathyaraj’s films have been released since then, including the 2015 film Baahubali.
“The way you accepted and appreciated Baahubali Part I, I request you to do the same for Part II... Sathyaraj is neither the director nor the producer of this movie. He is one of the many artistes associated with this film. If you stall the release of the film, it may not affect him (Sathyaraj) that much. But it is not right to show your anger on this film for the comments made by him,” he said.
The director said Sathyaraj has been “updated about the situation” but beyond that the team could not do much. “I request you not to involve us in this matter as it is nowhere connected to us. We want your affection to continue,” he said.
The film’s producer, Shobu Yarlagadda, also expressed hope that the issue would be resolved amicably. “This is a very sensitive issue, and I don’t want to comment much on it. The only thing I want to say is - we will resolve the issue amicably in the interest of all concerned,” he had said.
But the appeal failed to pacify the Kannada outfits, who have called for a Bengaluru bandh on April 28, the date of the release of the much-anticipated film, as they insisted on an apology by Sathyaraj, who plays a key character in the epic fantasy. “...We are not against the film or Rajamouli. Until Sathyaraj tenders unconditional apology, our protest will continue,” Vatal Nagaraj, who heads Kannada Okoota, an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies, said, in response to Rajamouli’s appeal.
He said, “There will be a Bengaluru bandh on April 28 and also there will be protests across the state. We can’t accept anything else other than apology by Sathyaraj,” he added.