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Mersal vs Modi: Five controversies that have plagued the Vijay-starrer

Vijay starrer, Mersal, has been facing a lot of trouble. From the strike over double taxation to doctors calling for a boycott, here are the top five controversies surrounding the film.

regional movies Updated: Oct 20, 2017 18:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mersal,Mersal vs Modi,Mersal controversies
Vijay’s character Maaran plays a doctor in Mersal.

Mersal, one of the biggest releases of 2017, has been in the news as it has been surrounded by controversy. Weeks before the release of the film, on October 18, the Tamil Nadu Producers’ council were on a strike against double taxation in the state and had stopped any new Tamil film from releasing in the theatres for two weeks. At that time, it was unclear if the film would make its Diwali release date. However, the strike ended just on time, but the problems continues. Here are five controversies that have plagued the film.

1.A petition was filed against the filmmakers by producer A Rajendran over the film’s title. He had stated that he had acquired the rights to use Mersalaiyitten much before the Mersal team had. There was an interim ban on using the film title for any marketing purposes, however, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition on October 6.

2. Even 24 hours before its release, audiences and trade analysts were unsure if the film would make it on time as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused to certify the film without a nod from AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India). The censor board announced that they needed an NOC from the AWBI, just a week before the film’s release. It was speculated that the filmmakers had used a few animals in the shoot without the required permits. The certificate arrived just a day before its scheduled release date.

3.Fans of actor Vijay had erected big cutouts of the star outside theatres in Bengaluru. One such theatre happened to be Sampige Theatre in Malleshwaram. This was where pro-Kannada organisations attacked individuals who they believed were fans of Vijay’s. A video on Facebook shows one of the theatres as being vandalised by members of the pro-Kannada organisation who called for a ban on the film in the state.

There are also reports that Sa Ra Govindu, Karnataka Film Chamber Of Commerce President, was leading the protest outside the theatre. It is unclear as to how this situation arose as there were no problems in other parts of Bengaluru. One theatre in Mysuru, however, was forced to stop the screening of the film.

4. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu state unit President, Tamilisai Sounderrajan came out against Vijay’s film. She said, “Scenes that convey wrong impression about GST and Digital India should be removed.” This was in reference to a line in the film, in which Vijay questions why when a country like Singapore, which levies lower GST than India is able to afford free healthcare services for all its citizens.

Now, speculations are rife that the producers might remove the controversial portions and recirculate the new cut of the film. However, no official statement has been issued about the same as of now.

5. Doctors in Tamil Nadu are boycotting the film stating that Mersal portrays them in a negative light. This is led by the state chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA). Some doctors are also reportedly sharing links to the film online and urging fellow doctors and medical staff to watch/download it illegally, stated a report in the Times of India. IMA president, Dr TN Ravishankar was quoted as saying, “We decided not to approach the media or court for relief. We will only be giving more publicity for the movie. Instead, if we spread the movie links on webpages, it will hit their collections. I hope they will realise then.”

Even as the filmmakers are dealing with the controversies, it has received decent reviews and has become the second highest-grossing filmon day 1 after Baahubali 2 in the country. Trade analysts have also taken to Twitter to speculate that this kind of attention will spread positive word of mouth.

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First Published: Oct 20, 2017 17:57 IST