Updated on: Monday, November 15, 2021, 09:24 PM IST

FPJ Legal: Caste outfit issues notice to Jai Bhim producers, director


Chennai: The Vanniyar Sangam, a powerful caste outfit and parent organisation of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), on Monday issued a legal notice to the producers and director of the widely acclaimed multilingual film Jai Bhim, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video, an OTT platform.

The Vanniyar Sangam has objected to what it deems to be a deliberate and wrongful attempt to portray a Sub Inspector of Police (villian in the film) as a member of the Vanniyar community.

The film is inspired by a real life incident in 1993 [shown as 1995 in the movie) in which Rajakannu, a member of an oppressed caste, is killed in police custody after being picked up on a false charge of theft. The movie is produced jointly by leading star couple Suriya and Jyothika (half-sister of Nagma) and directed by journalist-turned-filmmaker T J Gnanavelu. While some names such as that of the main victim Rajakannu and the advocate Chandru, who fought the case, were retained, the names of certain other characters were fictionalised. The movie's script too veers from the actual case to add an element of suspense and thrill.

While many have hailed the film for its depiction of police atrocities against the oppressed sections, it drew criticism from certain quarters on three grounds. One, a police officer is seen slapping a pawn broker for speaking in Hindi [in the Tamil and Telugu versions]. Two, in a scene at the house of the accused Sub Inspector, a 1995 calender containing the photo of an Agni Kundam (fire pot) was placed. The Vanniyar Sangam and the PMK objected to this as the fire pot is the symbol used by the Vanniyar community. The calendar has since been replaced with an image of a Hindu Goddess. Three, the Sub Inspector's original name was Anthonysamy but in the film it was changed to Gurumurthy.

The Vanniyar Sangam and PMK have alleged that the name Gurumurthy denoted their late leader 'Kaduvetti' J Guru. Also, in the original case, some of those who fought on behalf of the victims were Vanniyars. The BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits also objected to this name change alleging that deliberately they filmmakers had concealed the Christian identity of the accused and replaced it with that of a Hindu name. [In the original case, four other policemen who were cited as accused were Hindus.]

The Vanniyar Sangam in its legal notice said, "the aforesaid false, baseless, unverified and highly defamatory scenes and Statements, imputations made by you against my client’s community constitute actionable defamation claim under both Criminal and Civil Law, for which all of you are jointly and severally liable."

The outfit called upon the producers and director to remove the defamatory scenes as well as any reference to the Vanniyar community and its symbol of “Agni Kundam” with immediate effect.

Besides seeking an unconditional apology to be published in leading media outlets and social media "within 24 hours", it sought Rs 5 crore as damages. In the event of failure to comply with these, the outfit warned of criminal action.

Meanwhile, some members of the PMK prevented the screening of Vel, an old film starring Suriya in a theatre in Mayiladuthurai in central Tamil Nadu.

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Published on: Monday, November 15, 2021, 09:24 PM IST