Mersal: How Tamil superstar Vijay weathered one more storm of controversy

The movie is said to be a take on medical corruption which Tamil Nadu has been witnessing for many years now.

 |  3-minute read |   17-10-2017
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Tamil actor Vijay - who has this honorific of Ilaiya Thalapathi (junior commander-in-chief) prefixed before his name - is well known for courting controversy. His films often run into a storm even before hitting the screens. And when it is not a movie that gets embroiled in a sticky situation, it is the unruliness of his fans which create havoc and humiliation for him.

Just a few days ago, Vijay's Diwali release, Mersal, seemed to be heading for a no show. To begin with, Mersal appears to have erred when it came to securing permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India for using birds and animals - an absolute must today. An unnamed source from the animal board told the media that the film crew had been found using birds and snakes during a shoot in Chennai's Binny Mills without permission. Not just this, the Mersal team had reportedly tried fooling the members of the board - when they visited the location - by removing the birds and snakes. However, the team found feathers and bird droppings all around - a clean give away.

To cut a long story short, the animal board finally gave Mersal the no-objection certificate, without which the Central Board of Film Certification would not give a movie its screening rights. Mersal has now been passed with an U/A certificate. And it opens on October18.

Mersal is said to be a take on medical corruption which Tamil Nadu has been witnessing for many years now. Recently, we saw a big controversy erupting when VK Sasikala's ailing husband, Natarajan, was given a liver and kidney in a double transplant procedure. Some alleged that he had got these organs out of turn, and that the norm was that one could get only one organ at a time.

Vijay's films have always had to weather unpleasantness. In 2015, Puli (a historical fantasy) had to open a few hours late because the movie producer had financial issues with the digital company, Qube. In 2012, the release of Vijay's Thuppakki (a thriller) was put off several times, because the title was under dispute, and the case in court took time for settlement. In 2012, the actor's Thalaivaa (the story of an underground don and his son) was not allowed to open when some student organisations staged protests and threatened theatres.Apart from such roadblocks, Vijay has had to face acute embarrassment when his fans went berserk on the social media and posted a volley of highly inappropriate messages bordering on the obscene and vulgar against the editor-in-chief of The News Minute, Dhanya Rajendran. She had written in one of her posts: “I had watched Vijay’s Sura till interval and walked out. Jab Harry Met Sejal has made me break that record. Could not sit till interval.” An honest opinion, professional, nothing demeaning or personal, and yet she came under blazing fire. She was abused and shamed by Vijay's fan brigade, and it took him many days to write a response - which turned out to be disappointingly weak.

Sura was Vijay's 50th film and the star plays a fisherman fighting a land-grabbing minister with Tamannaah as his companion. The movie was abjectly boring as so many of these star-driven works tend to be.

Will Mersal be any different?

Also read: A tale of two stars, Vijay and Ajith, in an insecure Tamil cinema ruled by unruly fans


Gautaman Bhaskaran Gautaman Bhaskaran @gautamanb

The author is a writer, commentator and movie critic.

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