Chennai/New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) The controversy over critical comments on GST and Digital India in Tamil film “Mersal” snowballed on Saturday with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and party leader P. Chidambaram attacking the BJP over alleged attempts to muzzle criticism as BJP leaders justified their attack on actor Vijay who did the lead role in the movie.
Several leaders of parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK working president M.K. Stalin, joined the debate calling the demand for removal of some dialogues from the film as an attempt to stifle free speech.
Tamil Superstar Kamal Hassan and president of Film Producers Association Vishal also came out in support of Vijay.
Gandhi took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the demand for removal of dialogues critical of GST in the movie and asked him not to “demon-etise Tamil pride” by such interference.
“Mr. Modi, Cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don’t try to demon-etise Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal,” Gandhi said in a tweet.
Vijay has been panned for his dialogues in the film that takes a dig at GST and Digital India. Vijay, who had met Narendra Modi during electioneering ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, had even lauded demonetisation last year.
BJP’s National Secretary H. Raja in a tweet on Friday raked up the actor’s Christian origins.
“Joseph Vijay’s hatred for Modi is ‘Mersal’.”
Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan had demanded removal of the dialogues relating to GST, digital payments and temples from the movie as they spread a wrong message.
Earlier on Saturday, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram attacked the BJP in tweets over its demand for removal of dialogues critical of GST in “Mersal”.
“BJP demands deletion of dialogues in ‘Mersal’. Imagine the consequences if ‘Parasakthi’ was released today.
“Notice to film makers: Law is coming, you can only make documentaries praising government’s policies,” he said, in a sarcastic note.
“Parasakthi” was a strong critique of the prevailing socio-economic order in 1950’s, scripted and written by DMK leader M. Karunanidhi, and in which the actor, late Sivaji Ganesan mouthed his powerful dialogue.
Hitting back at Chidambaram, Union Minister and BJP leader Pon. Radhakrishnan wanted to know why the Congress leader was supporting Vijay, asking derisively whether he has funded the film.
H. Raja, continuing his criticism of the actor, said somebody who speaks on matters should be above board. “Vijay is not above board as he has faced tax raids and people will not believe him,” he said.
Haasan, in his reaction, said those opposed to the film must “counter criticism with a logical response”.
“‘Mersal’ was certified. Don’t re-censor it. Counter criticism with logical response. Don’t silence critics. India will shine when it speaks,” Haasan tweeted on Friday.
Stalin in his tweet said: “BJP’s attempt to muzzle criticism is contrary to democratic principles. The DMK always stands for freedom of speech & creative expression.”
Vishal said any attempt to re-certify the film by taking it back to censors would be against the law.
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