Over the past few days, filmmaker Bala’s ‘Reality in the making’ teaser for Paradesi has evoked angry reactions. Some accused him of human rights violations. Irate Netizens swore not to watch the film. The clips showed the director as an abusive taskmaster, kicking and lashing at his actors. Here are some counterpoints including that of Bala’s…

Chezhiyan, Cinematographer

Cinematographer of Paradesi, Chezhiyan, explained the entire video frame by frame. First, the sticks used by Bala in the teaser are made of foam and sponge used in film shoots. The scenes that depict violence, both in the teaser and the film, were shot using these fake sticks. Second, ‘realistic’ sound has been added to the teaser to create an illusion. As for the portions that show Bala kicking somebody, he was actually explaining to the actors how to kick and fall ‘cinematically’ with the help of his assistant directors. The crucial point many seem to have missed is that Bala was not physically abusing the actors for performing badly in a scene; he was simply enacting the scenes to his actors. In short, the teaser itself is Bala’s version of creating an ‘illusion’ of reality.

S. P. Jananathan, Director

Rubbishing the entire controversy, S. P. Jananathan, who has made films such as E and Peranmai, regretted that accusations have been made against Bala with no basic understanding of a filmmaking process. Talking about his own experience, Jananathan said, “In E, Jiiva was feeling uneasy about kicking Karunas. I had to then step in and show how it had to be done. Will that be called harassment? How do we make films then?” The director, who is also an integral part of the directors’ union and FEFSI, said, “Talking from my personal experience, FEFSI is a strong body that protects the rights of its members, and harassment of its members will be taken seriously.”

From the tweets

Opinions slowly began to change as clarifications were sought and given. Actor Silambarasan tweeting on the issue wondered how so many from the film industry got it wrong. Since then, actor-producer Udhayanidhi Stalin has also retracted his earlier statement criticising Bala. He wrote on Twitter that he had spoken to two of his friends who had worked in the film, and was sorry about his comments.

Bala, Director

While admitting that he was surprised by the comments made by those in the film industry, Bala said, “Cinema is a world of make-believe. It's sad that even people in the business of film-making have misunderstood what's depicted in the trailer. Nevertheless, I am touched by the people’s sensitivity when confronted with violence. But, where was this sensitivity when thousands of people were killed in Sri Lanka? Sometimes, silence can be the biggest form of violence!”

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