Actor Vijay-starrer Tamil film, Thalaivaa (Leader), has not opened in Tamil Nadu theatres. It was scheduled to release on August 9.
In a State, where actors are celebrated as demi-gods, Vijay is a heartthrob among the youth. Reverentially and affectionately called, Ilayadalapathy (Junior Commander), he may not be as popular as Rajnikanth or Kamal Hassan, but is certainly one of the very few stars whose very name spells boxoffice bonanza.
Nobody is quite sure when Thalaivaa will hit the screens in Tamil Nadu, although it has opened outside the country and even in neighbouring States. This is a dangerous trend, for it often leads to pirated disks being circulated in a non-screening region. This kills revenue.
K. Munikannaiah of Chennai’s Sathyam Cinemas said there was very little possibility of the movie opening before Wednesday, because the schedule has been drawn up and tickets for other films have been sold.
Nobody is even quite sure why Thalaiva could not be released in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu, like some other States in India, is overly touchy about cinema. There is always some group or the other – both political and apolitical – which raises objections to a film.
We saw this in the case of Kamal Hassan’s Viswaroopam, when some Muslim outfits felt that the movie portrayed the community in bad light. The film could not open for several weeks. By then the excitement had waned.
As far as Thalaivaa goes, it is said that members of a political group sent threat notices on Tuesday to some of the biggest multiplexes in Chennai warning them not to screen the movie. They felt that Thalaivaa was taking pot-shots at some caste-based issues.
Also, Thalaivaa faced a legal hurdle when the son of a Mumbai businessman – on whom actor Vijay’s character is reportedly based -- filed a civil suit stating that film had distorted the lives of his father and grandfather.
The son averred that his father as well as grandfather were well known community leaders among the Tamil population of Mumbai’s Dharavi. But they were being shown as ‘dons’.
Finally, Thalaivaa also ran into a financial hurdle when the State Government refused to give it a tax exemption. This can lead to losses for producers/distributors. A Government Order dated August 8 said “the Commercial Taxes Department Review Committee refused entertainment tax exemption to ‘Thalaivaa’ citing various reasons: the presence of over 400 English words in the dialogues, depiction of violence and the hero taking law into his own hands. All panel members said the movie, which has a ‘U certificate’, had excessive violence and English and Hindi dialogues”.
But is this not the case with every other Indian movie? Why, Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express has plenty of situations where policemen are made to look like fools with the goons have a free run. It is violent as well. But the Express is chugging along merrily. No red light for it. Not even amber!