India: Pressure from fringe groups raise concern in film sector

A growing trend of fringe groups holding to ransom censor-certified films and attempting to stall their release has become a cause of concern for filmmakers, producers, and fans.


In an article entitled ‘Holding Tamil box office to ransom’, The Hindu reported that insiders in the Indian film industry worry that pressure groups prevent the release of censor-certified films.

Calling on film industry leaders to set aside their differences and address the issue, veteran director Bharathirajaa noted in a statement that it was a very unfortunate trend:

“As creators, filmmakers and actors must enjoy artistic freedom. Cartoonists enjoy the freedom to make caricatures of world leaders and make fun of them. Why can’t film makers enjoy this freedom? One of the greatest movies ever, ‘The Great Dictator’ by the legendary Charlie Chaplin, made fun of Hitler even when he was alive. Some of the protests against Tamil filmmakers are aimed at curbing this freedom.”

Most people see the roadblocks to comedy star Vadivelu’s ‘Tenaliraman’ as a continuation of a trend that started with iconic actor and filmmaker Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’ that was released after a struggle in 2013.

More recently, Santhosh Sivan’s ‘Inam’, one of the rare mainstream films from the South to be centred on the war between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE, was voluntarily withdrawn by the film’s distributors following pressures from political groups. This, despite several respected filmmakers from the Tamil Film Director’s Union making passionate pleas to fringe Tamil nationalist groups not to politicise the film’s release.

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Screening of Sri Lankan movie stopped after threats

The film screening in Chennai, India, was cancelled after managers of two multiplexes received threatening phone calls from people who claimed to represent some Tamil groups. The film is an Indo-Sri Lanka collaboration, directed by Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage.

A couple of days after theatres stopped screening Sri Lankan film ‘With You, Without You’ citing threats from some Tamil groups, co-producer of the movie and prominent documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy on Monday petitioned chief minister J Jayalalithaa, writing:

“We cannot let mobs rough ride filmmakers’ right to freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution and deprive audiences the right to see films they wish to. We appeal to you to protect our constitutional rights.”

Supporting Rahul Roy who sought safe screening of the movie across the state, 101 people including filmmakers, writers, civil servants and activists signed the petition.

“We are seeking your intervention not only as the constitutional authority of the state, but also as a supporter of the filmmaking fraternity,” the petition to Jayalalithaa read.

» Source:  The Times of India – 24 June 2014:
Intelligentsia ask CM to ensure screening of Lankan movie

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