Industry insiders are worried at groups preventing release of censor-certified films

The 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.

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

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rare mainstream films from the South to be centred on the war between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE, was voluntarily withdrawn by the film’s distributors following pressures from political groups.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.

Calling on film industry leaders to set aside their differences and address the issue, veteran director Bharathirajaa, in a statement, noted 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,” he added.

V.Packirisamy, regional officer, Tamil Nadu Censor Board, lamented the situation where several groups were challenging any film’s release despite the film being cleared by the certifying authority. Without going into the merits of any of the films, he noted: “Censor certificates are awarded to a film only after detailed discussions by the committee that views the films. This takes into account whether the content is respectful to the sentiments of audience. Also, films must be viewed as an entertainment medium and there must be some freedom for the filmmaker.”

A leading producer, who did not want to be named, said of late, some people with political aspirations had begun using the days leading to the release of some big budget films as a means to gain publicity. Most groups that have made a noise over some film’s releases over the past year have disappeared since from public memory. “It is unfair for some of these groups to expect to see the film before it releases in the theatres, especially after the films have been certified by the censors.”

This article has been corrected for a typographical error.

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