Tamil Nadu

Bhagyaraj apologises after slamming PM’s critics

Veteran filmmaker and actor K. Bhagyaraj speaks at a book launch event in Chennai on April 20, 2022.

Close on the heels of legendary music composer Ilaiyaraaja hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comparing him to B.R. Ambedkar in the foreword of a book, veteran filmmaker and actor K. Bhagyaraj on Wednesday derided Mr. Modi’s critics as “babies born prematurely when they were just three months old”.

He made the remark at the launch of the book, ‘New India 22: PM Modi’s welfare policies’, at the State BJP headquarters in Chennai.

Speaking at the function, which was attended by BJP State president K. Annamalai, Mr. Bhagyaraj, who has delivered many memorable films and has often identified politically with former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran [before joining the DMK a few years ago], said,  “Only in the fourth month (of pregnancy), the mouth is formed. The ears are formed in the fifth month. The reason why I say that they are born in the third month...they will neither talk nor hear what others have to say. We don’t have to worry about it.” He went on to state, “Modi ji should consider his critics as those born prematurely at three months of age.”

His remarks drew severe criticism from disability rights activists, forcing him to issue an apology in the evening.  He said that he was “not a BJP man”, and that the Dravidian ideology had seeped into him.

“I understand that my ‘premature babies’ comment has been interpreted in a wrong way. I didn’t mean to refer to disabled people. I apologise to those who were hurt by my comment,” he said.

The actor, who has not been seen on DMK platforms for the past few years, said, “I am not [a] BJP [man]. I was born in Tamil Nadu and I have been in Tamil cinema and Tamil has been feeding me. The ideas of Dravidian leaders like Periyar [E.V. Ramasamy], Annadurai, Kalaignar [M. Karunanidhi], MGR [M.G. Ramachandran] and Jeeva have seeped into me, and they are reflected in the films I have made. Even 40 years ago, I had made films reflecting the Dravidian ideology, like speaking against caste. I will continue to propagate those ideas.”

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2022 1:35:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bhagyaraj-apologises-after-slamming-pms-critics/article65338960.ece