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Of Crackers and Controversies…

Hello readers! The season of festivals is here and the festival of lights – perhaps the most widely celebrated festival across our country is here too… The sound of crackers, the sight of fancy fireworks and lamps and colourful new clothes and more importantly, the aroma of delicious sweets and savouries are all set to fill our nostrils. Deepavali is important to the cinema industry too, for the movies of many big stars get released this day, amidst a lot of expectations from fans. After a recent ruling by the authorities that the movies of the top stars should release only on festival days and leave the other days for smaller movies to release, Deepavali becomes a day when the fans of these big stars look forward to, for their matinee idols’ movies are sure to light up the big screens on this day. Over the past couple of decades, Deepavali was the day the movies of Superstar Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan and Ajith and Vijay used to release.

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This year, the movies that are lined up for release are Vishal’s Poojai and Ilayathalapathy Vijay’s Kaththi. Initially, the magnum opus I, directed by Shankar and starring Vikram and Amy Jackson was also set for release. But, somehow the movie has been postponed and the producer’s other movie Booloham, starring Jayam Ravi and Trisha, might release instead. But, the biggest buzz surrounding the industry is the ban being requested on Kaththi. Off late, Vijay has had a lot of issues with the releases of his movies. His Thuppakki had an issue with the title. Another director claimed that Thuppakki was similar to the title of his movie – Kalla Thuppakki. After a long drawn-out case and a lot of deliberation, the two parties agreed to peacefully accept the respective titles. Then, for Thalaivaa, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the release, as there was said to be a lot of political intention and propaganda behind the movie. Then after a huge struggle, Thalaivaa got to see the light of day.

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Now, there is no controversy over the title, but the production house behind Kaththi seems to be the reason for the huge furore surrounding it’s release. The banner Lyca Productions, which is funding Kaththi is owned by one Mr. Subaskaran Alliraja. A Srilankan Tamilian, Subaskaran is a big businessman who owns a number of companies that operate across the world. Recently, the protestors who are requesting a ban against the movie produced photographic evidence of Subaskaran alighting from a Srilankan military helicopter. There was also another photograph which showed the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse’s son participating in a rally sponsored by Lyca Mobiles. All these notwithstanding, Subaskaran was also said to travel to sensitive areas within Sri Lanka without any hassles, while many world organizations were denied permission to travel to these same places. Thus began the reports that Subaskaran and Rajapakse were having financial dealings and also that they were very close business associates. Many Pro-Tamil groups in Tamil Nadu began protesting against Kaththi, stating that the movie should not be released here, as I was being produced by people who were supporters of anti-Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

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This kick-started a wave of protests and agitation by various groups against Kaththi. However, there was no word from either the producers or the director nor Ilayathalapathy Vijay, on this issue. With a lot of loose ends and no clarification from any corner, the shooting of the movie was progressing normally. Just over a month back, the production house decided to hold a press meet and address the press and media regarding all these allegations. At this meet, all the top brass of Lyca Mobiles and Lyca Productions were present. Mr. Subaskaran Alliraja revealed that despite all his other businesses, he chose to enter movie production, to follow his passion for cinema. An AV presentation of Gnanam Foundation (another brainchild of Subaskaran) was shown at this press meet. This foundation, named after his mother Mrs. Gnanam, is into rehabilitation and relief work for the Srilankan Tamils across the country. The AV presentation showed all the work being done by the foundation for the welfare of the Tamils. It also detailed the presence of Lyca Mobiles across the world. Answering the allegations of his links with the Srilankan President Rajapakse, Subaskaran revealed that old helicopters of the Srilankan military were being rented out to civilians who wished to travel across the country. Lyca Productions passed on the bill receipts of the rental amount paid for the usage of these helicopters. The issue of Rajapakse’s son participating in a charitable walk sponsored by Lyca Mobiles was also explained. It is said that the rally for a good cause was globally known and that many people including many Indian celebrities like Sourav Ganguly and Sunil Gavaskar participated in it, as it is originally initiated by the cricketing great Sir. Ian Botham. The issue of Lyca Fly being associated with the Sri Lankan national airlines was cleared when they revealed that they are a member of IATA and are associated with over 240 airlines across the world.

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Lyca Productions was started when Lyca Group decided to produce quality cinema and joined hands with the world famous Ayngaran International. Mr. Karunamoorthy of Ayngaran is also a producer of the movie Kaththi. Despite Lyca Productions giving all these clarifications, there were still a lot of protests and the movie releasing for Deepavali was still in doubt. Theatre owners were apprehensive to release the movie, fearing protests by political parties and other Pro-Tamil organizations. However, after many rounds of talks between the producers and the theatre owners, the issues were resolved and the movie’s release was assured.

This is not the first time that a movie’s release is being protested against… Many times in the past, such protests have happened. Who can forget the protests against Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam? How was it that the movie was allowed to be released in other states but could not release in Tamil Nadu? There were allegations that the movie hurt the sentiments of a particular religion. But, considering that members of the said religion are also residents of the states that the movie was allowed to release in, was Vishwaroopam hurting the sentiments of the people of that religion in Tamil Nadu alone and not in other states? Why is it that some people of our state begin protesting against certain movies without even seeing them? Despite all the clarifications given by Lyca Productions, the protests continued. Now, the protests have stopped. What happened to change the minds of these protestors in such a short span? There is a section of the public that believe these protests are generated by the film makers themselves, to get free publicity for the movie. That could also be the case. There are also some people who believe that the protestors just want to create an issue for self publicity or to get some financial gain from the movie’s producers. Whatever the motive may be, such issues need to be dealt with severely to ensure that only legal and logical protests are encouraged and nonsensical and whimsical protests are not allowed to disrupt the proceedings of any movie’s shoot or release.

– Vicky

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  1. We deeilitfny need more smart people like you around.

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