BJP vs Mersal: No political party should harass filmmakers or act as a parallel censor board

The Vijay starrer Mersal enjoyed a successful worldwide release this Diwali, beating, for example, the opening day collection of Rajinikanth’s Kabali in Chennai. It then got a big publicity boost from an unexpected quarter: various BJP netas who fumed that the film has made “incorrect references” to GST, Digital India, the state of healthcare in India and Singapore. Inevitably, a scene that provoked them has been leaked online. However political pressure has been brought to bear on the filmmakers to snip the ‘offending’ scenes, which may yet succeed.

Crying about hurt sensibilities sometimes seems as common an accompaniment to watching films in India as popcorn. But when the game of hurt sensibilities spins out of control, it endangers the industry that has made us proud in the world, entertained and uplifted and inspired us, and given India considerable soft power. It’s bad enough when government is not able to protect a film from violence by non-state actors, for example when the Padmavati set or theatres screening PK were vandalised. But at least government should not be party to harassing filmmakers. When Union minister of state for finance and shipping Pon Radhakrishnan summarily demands that Mersal’s producer remove “the untruths regarding GST” from the film, it sends a disturbing signal that government denies both debate and ease of doing business.

The fact is that Mersal has been certified by CBFC and it is not for the minister or anyone else to set up a parallel censor board of their own. In general governments need to grow a thicker skin. Giving dramatic voice to aam admi’s frustrations is one of the things in which Indian cinema justly takes great pride. Silencing the voice instead of addressing the frustrations is not in national interest.

Courtesy: The Times Of India