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Debate over animals in Tamil film

Tamil cinema's foremost comedian Vadivelu normally ends up getting beaten up for all the wrong reasons in his films.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 02:00 IST

Tamil cinema's foremost comedian Vadivelu normally ends up getting beaten up for all the wrong reasons in his films. And just when he was to turn hero and beat up the bad guys for a change, his film has been caught in the crossfire between the censors and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi, where Vadivelu plays a funny king in Tamil cinema's first historical comedy, has been denied a censor certificate as the film's producer failed to get an advance no-objection certificate from the board. Elephants and horses were used liberally in war scenes ---- without subjecting them to any cruelty, the film's director Simbhu claims.

But there's a catch. The Union Ministry of Environment has stripped the board of the right to issue the clearance, that, too, way back in 2002. It is another matter that it came to know of the change in March this year.

Till then, the board had relied upon a Bombay High Court ruling of August 2005 that directed it to enforce the Performing Animals Rules before giving NOCs to films following a petition from PeTA. Now PeTA has again moved the Bombay HC questioning the Environment Ministry's writ.

The film's producer, on the other hand, has approached the high court to get the AWBI to clear the film. Across the country, more than 70 films are stuck due to this confusion.

First, most producers don't even know that they have to get such a clearance. "Even after Rang De Basanti's experience, producers are still unaware that an NOC is required from before shooting scenes involving animals," observed Dr.R. Balasubramaniam, secretary of AWBI. If only the producer of Imsai Arasan, who has done much research for his historical, had briefed himself of the basic guidelines, this confusion would not have arisen, he added.

First Published: Jun 19, 2006 02:00 IST