Madras HC refuses to ban Vijay's controversial 'Mersal'
The Madras HC has dismissed a petition seeking a ban on Vijay's controversial film 'Mersal', which made headlines over its "criticism" of the GST. It is only a film, the court noted, saying freedom of expression is for all. Earlier, producer Hema Rukmani had tendered an apology to those who were offended. "We are willing to remove scenes…which might create misunderstanding," she had said.
Tamil Nadu BJP's state president Tamilisai Soundararajan has raised objections to some scenes in Vijay-starrer Mersal. She asked that these scenes, which mock Modi government's Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Digital India, be removed. She accused Tamil superstar Vijay of spreading false information about BJP's initiatives because he wants to enter politics. Why did this controversy arise? Read on!
Mersal is a film starring Tamil superstar Vijay, Nithya Menen, Kajal Aggarwal, Samantha, SJ Suryah and Vadivelu among others. Directed by Atlee, the film is a revenge drama narrating the story of Vetri and Maaran, who fight against the medical mafia. The film was released on Diwali and as per box-office reports, it has reportedly grossed over Rs. 70cr within two days of its release.
Two scenes in the movie have offended BJP. In one scene, a thief tries to steal the wallet of a character who shows him that the wallet is empty because of Digital India. In another scene, Vijay's character says that though Singapore has 7% GST, people get free treatment and Indians do not get it despite paying 28% GST.
Despite not having seen the movie, Sounderrajan said that the movie has "factual errors" and creates "wrong impression in people's minds." She said filmmakers don't know anything about "GST or economies involved in it" and "spreading incorrect opinions is condemnable." She also accused actors of not revealing their salaries and not paying appropriate taxes but questioning Modi who is non-corrupt and works for people's welfare.
Meanwhile, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) questioned BJP on the issue. PMK's youth wing leader and LS MP Anbumani Ramadoss said the film referred to GST in the context of free medical care. Amidst high taxation, 'what is wrong if someone is proposing free medical care'. He said since the Central government-constituted censor board has certified the film, there is no reason to criticize it.
There was uncertainty regarding the film's release after theatre owners protested the Chennai corporation's imposition of a local tax. Another petitioner asked that the film be banned for charging exorbitant prices. Later, the film was asked to obtain an NOC from Animal Welfare Organization for a scene involving pigeons. However, after the film's release, it received a tremendous response largely due to Vijay's popularity.