The release of a Rajinikanth film is always a mega event in south India. But his latest film, Kaala, which released today, has come with additional publicity, given that it has been opposed by groups in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, two of the biggest markets. Ironically, the opposition has got nothing to do with the contents of the film, but the superstar’s remarks on extraneous issues. Tamil Nadu elements are protesting over certain remarks he made on the recent protests in Tuticorin, while those in Karnataka are upset by his remark that the State must honour the Supreme Court’s directive on Cauvery river waters. It is unfortunate that politics has seeped into his remarks and both sides have decided to punish the film. The Karnataka Government has taken the stand that the film’s release in the State should not be allowed for the moment at least. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, refused to block the release of the film. While the additional publicity could work in the film’s favour in the mid-term period, the issue of using films as a medium to play politics remains relevant. This is not the first time that films have run into trouble, though for different reasons. Padmavat is one recent example. Several cuts had to be agreed upon and even the film’s name had to be changed before it was cleared for release. Even then, the opposing groups, especially the Karni Sena, continued their protests over the contents of the film which they claimed portrayed the Kshatriya community in bad light and demeaned the legendary queen warrior, Padmavati. The protests were backed by politicians cutting across party lines. On an earlier occasion, Indu Sarkar ran into trouble with an opposition party. In the years gone by, other films too faced the ire of fringe elements and even mainstream voices. Water, Fire and Aandhi are some notable examples. There is no denying that film-makers must demonstrate sensitivity while making films on contentious topics and be responsible in their approach. But every such film is bound to leave some section or the other of the people unhappy, and it cannot be anybody’s case that this should become the reason to block a film’s release. Otherwise, it would be impossible for film-makers to make any film that deals with contemporary issues. A certain level of artistic creativity must be given space and appreciated for what it is. There is no need to always look for motives. Besides, let the Central Board of Film Certification take a final call.
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