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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Madras HC dismisses plea against Mersal, asks petitioner to focus on social evils

A PIL seeking revocation of censor certificate for Mersal was filed by lawyer A Asvathaman on the grounds that the film was full of false propaganda on GST.

regional-movies Updated: Oct 27, 2017 16:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Chennai
Vijay in a still from Mersal. BJP in Tamil Nadu objected to what it said was an incorrect depiction of GST and Digital India.
Vijay in a still from Mersal. BJP in Tamil Nadu objected to what it said was an incorrect depiction of GST and Digital India.

The Madras high court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking the revocation of the censor certificate to Mersal on the grounds that the Tamil film starring Vijay was full of false propaganda on the Goods and Service Tax (GST).

Dismissing the private petition filed by lawyer A Asvathaman, justice MM Sundresh and justice M Sundar said in a mature democracy voices of minorities cannot be suppressed and that it was for the viewers to decide whether they wanted to watch a film.

They said if Asvathaman wanted to protest at all, he should be protesting against untouchability and other social evils.

Vijay’s Diwali release kicked up a row after the Bharatiya Janata Party objected to references to the central government’s GST policy in the movie. BJP leaders, including state president Tamilisai Soundarajan and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, demanded that the “incorrect” references must be deleted from the big-budget flick.

Asvathaman also contended the film contained wrong information on GST that can lead to misconception over the new tax regime but the court held everyone had the right to express their opinions.

He also told the court that the film made fun of Digital India project. “They’re saying there’s no money in India and doing comedy on it,” he said referring to a scene where comedian Vadivelu shows his meaty wallet and says no one carries money as it is ‘Digital India’.

The judges, in turn, questioned him and said, “Do you know how many people in India are malnourished? Opposition leaders have spoken against demonetisation. So, can we put a case on them for it?”

When he Asvathaman on and said the film’s dialogues were wrong, the judges asked him why was he making a big issue of it.

“Some films have scenes where the hero steals from the rich and gives it to the poor. If you really care about social good, you could come to court about scenes where people are drinking and smoking. You could come to court for disabled people being depicted badly. Instead, you’re coming for this,” they added.

Vijay’s film has already crossed the Rs 100 crore mark worldwide at the box office, according to trade analysts, even as the controversy grew bigger with the opposition and film fraternity attacking the saffron party and its alleged efforts to communalise the situation.

(With inputs from KV Lakshmana)

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First Published: Oct 27, 2017 12:48 IST

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