Being critical of movies will restrict filmmakers: Bharathiraja, Vetrimaaran on Suriya's Jai Bhim row

Legendary directors Bharathiraja and Vetrimaaran have come out in support of actor Suriya, after the Vanniyar Sangam on Monday sent a legal notice to makers of actor Suriya-starrer Jai Bhim, alleging that the flick tarnished the reputation of the community and sought an unconditional apology from them
Being critical of movies will restrict filmmakers: Bharathiraja, Vetrimaaran on Suriya's Jai Bhim row
Filmmakers Bharathiraja and Vetrimaaran


“I write to you as a filmmaker who has spoken out on social injustice and disparity. Celluloid is something that speaks about several issues – education, love, right, wrong and other social reforms. The medium has taken such issues to the masses,” Bharathiraja said. He also added that cinema has been one of the flagbearers in putting society in the right track. “Which is why the protagonist is always being portrayed in good light. While several real-life incidents inspire screenplays, it is left for people to decide on what’s right and what’s wrong. They have always embraced the right narratives and have ignored wrong depictions,” he mentioned in his letter to PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss.
The veteran filmmaker went on to say that Jai Bhim produced by Suriya and Jyothika and directed by TJ Gnanavel has conveyed to the people what it was supposed to. “Analysing films with a magnifying glass and being critical of it would only restrict filmmakers and would also stop voicing out the injustices that the oppressed community has been going through.”
Vetrimaaran also followed the list the celebrities who stood in solidarity.
“The commitment of director TJ Gnanavel to make this film to let the world know the plight of the victims and Suriya’s constant efforts towards social justice, on and offscreen is truly inspiring,” he wrote. 
The director further added that it was only natural these films cause a stir among those who don’t want the status quo to change. “Films that question the inequalities and injustices to society too are weapons towards social justice. We stand by the whole team of #JaiBhim (sic),” he took to Twitter.
Removal of references to Vanniyar community's revered symbol of raging fire pot, an apology for damning, tarnishing and damaging the reputation of the community, desisting from similar malicious moves and payment of Rs 5 crore in damages were the demands made in the legal notice.
In case of non-compliance, the Jai Bhim team, including the producers, director and actor Suriya, who performed the lead role would be liable for proceedings under both the civil and criminal laws for causing loss of reputation and bringing mental agony, the notice, which was also sent to the OTT platform Amazon (Prime Video) that released the flick, said.
The crux of the allegations found in the notice is that the Vanniyar community was shown in 'poor light, vilified by naming the wicked police sub-inspector as 'Guru' (Gurumurthy) and by showcasing the firepot symbol of the community and these were both criminal and civil defamation.
The notice said while the real-life names of several people were retained in the film, the unrighteous Police Sub-Inspector was named Guru, while the original name of the SI who tortured the innocent man to death was Anthonysamy.
According to the notice, naming a villainous character after a well-known Vanniyar community leader Guru, who was also a former MLA, and this aspect, when juxtaposed with the holy fire pot symbol would establish the malicious intent.
'Jai Bhim' was released recently in languages including Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. The film, though based on a true incident of custodial torture and death of a tribal man in 1995 in Tamil Nadu it had elements of fiction.

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