CHENNAI: Well before its release, Shoojit Sircar’s latest film ‘Madras Cafe’ starring John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri, has already been courting controversy. The latest issue surrounding the film is theatre owners wanted protection to screen the already-controversial film due to pressure from local groups.
Tamil nationalists had protested the portrayal of LTTE leader V Prabhakaran in a poor light, and this prompted theatre owners to ask for protection from the Chennai police commissioner.
‘Madras Cafe’, a spy thriller film set in the 1990s deals with the issue of the civil war between Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan authorities. Previously, pro-Tamil outfits had sought to ban the film completely, objecting to the said portrayal of their leader. They had also demanded to view the film prior to release, which the makers agreed to by allowing a special screening on Sunday.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures’ South regional manager, Vijay Arumugham met with the Police Commissioner of Chennai, S George on Monday. He submitted a petition, requesting for security for the screening of the film. Said Arumugaham: “We have requested the government and police to provide protection to theatres in which we plan to release the movie.”
Meanwhile, artists, writers, poets and other creative people have condemned the demand for a blanket ban, saying this would curb freedom of expression.
Like Tamil poet Manushya Putran says, “if there are objectionable portions in the movie despite clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification , then the affected parties had a right to ask that they be removed, but any demand to ban the film would be dangerous.”
“This vests the government with power to decide on the issue and reduces the scope for political debate in media and society,” he added.
Tamil novelist Ashoka Mitran echoed his sentiments, terming the call for a ban “some kind of blackmail” which will have “repercussions on law and order”. “If some people have a problem with a film, they should make a representation to the government,” he added.
Mitran also reinforced his point by saying that censorship should be done with the permission of the Censor Board and not at the behest of political groups.
This is not the first time that a work of art has come under fire from fringe political groups, due to alleged misrepresentation or so-called “hurting of sentiments.” In the recent past itself, films like Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’, ‘Dam 999’ and ‘Thalaiva’ have been in the eye of a storm, with local groups protesting the film’s content.