The Tamil Nadu government has banned the screening of the feature film, Dam 999, with immediate effect.
This was announced in a press release issued by Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi on Thursday.
The announcement followed the demand of several political leaders, including M. Karunanidhi of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Vaiko of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and S. Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi for a ban on the screening of the film.
The movie, according to its official website, is a tribute to those who died in the collapse of the 1975 Banqiao Dam. The story is about nine characters whose lives revolve around a crumbling dam. Some of those involved in the Tamil film industry have also worked for this film. They are Thotta Tharani (production designer), V. Srinivas Murali Mohan (graphics supervisor) and Anal Arasu (action director).
A news report published on the website of People's Daily Online in October 2005 stated that following a typhoon and the occurrence of 106 cm rainfall in 24 hours in August 1975 led to the collapse of Banqiao reservoir (located in Zhumadian, about 1,000 km south of Beijing) initially and 61 other dams in a series. Official statistics recorded 30 years after the dams burst showed that more than 26,000 people were killed in the floods and 10 million people affected, the report added.
Another press release issued by the Chief Secretary gave a brief account of the story of the film, according to which, the burst of a weak dam, constructed by a corrupt Mayor, led to massive flooding, resulting in the death of lakhs of people, including children, women and senior citizens. Also, it appeared that the title of the movie “Dam 999” was kept with the Mullaperiyar dam in mind.
Besides, statements and interviews of the moviemaker Sohan Roy, mariner-turned-film director, who hails from Kerala, revealed that the disaster that visited China in 1975 could happen in Mullaperiyar and that after viewing the film, the Tamil Nadu government would extend its cooperation for the construction of a new dam.
Even though the Mullaperiyar dam was not shown directly in the film, the visuals, shot in Alapuzha of Kerala, were reminiscent of the Mullaperiyar dam. As the title of the film indirectly pointed to the Muallperiyar dispute and the movie was designed to create a scare among people that the Mullaperiyar dam would collapse; generate discord between people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and lead to law and order problems in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa ordered that the screening of the film, slated for release on Friday, be banned, Mr. Sarangi stated.
Director plans to move Supreme Court
The ban was described as “totally unfortunate” by the film’s director Sohan Roy, who said he planned to approach the Supreme Court against it because he has been given a go ahead by the Censor Board.
“This should not happen to any movie or creative work in India. Such actions will kill creative minds,” Mr. Roy, who is in Dubai in connection with the film release in UAE, told PTI when contacted from Kochi.
He said Dam 999 is a film with a "social cause", which describes hazards dams can cause and creates awareness among the masses about the impending dangers of a dam collapse if not attended to on time. The ban would send “wrong signals”, he said and pointed out there was not a word mentioning Mullaiperiyar or the issue in the film.