May 06, 2022: Months after the release of actor Suriya and director TJ Gnanavel’s critically acclaimed film Jai Bhim, a court in Chennai has ordered the police to file an FIR against Suriya, his wife Jyothika and director Gnanavel under charges of allegedly misrepresenting the Vanniyar community in Jai Bhim. The petition was filed by a Vanniyar group called Rudra Vanniyar Sena, which has said that people belonging to the community have been shown in a very poor light in the movie.
The petitioners had approached the Chennai Saidapet court in November 2021 seeking directions for a case to be registered as in the movie, several scenes and the names of antagonists refer to their community. They also alleged that the movie was made out of "Vanniyar phobia" and has an “ulterior motive to instigate communal violence between communities.”
The petition came up for hearing on April 29, 2022, and neither actor Suriya, Jyothika nor Gnanavel appeared before the court. The petitioner submitted to the court that several scenes in the movie have been shot “only to show the Vanniyar community in a bad light.”
Accepting the petitioner’s argument, the court directed the Chennai police to file an FIR against all three named as accused. The court noted that “some cognizable offence is disclosed” in the complaint and that prima facie, a case is made out. The court has forwarded the complaint to the Inspector of police in Velachery to register an FIR according to law and investigate the case. The case will be heard again on May 20.
The controversy erupted last year shortly after Jai Bhim’s release when Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) called the film “a planned attack on the Vanniyar community.” He questioned the way one of the characters, a brutal Sub-Inspector, was represented, alleging that it was an insult to Vanniyars.
Later, the Vanniyar Sangam also took objection to the movie, saying that the movie had “delivered an irreparable dent in the hitherto earned high reputation of the community.” The Vanniyar Sangam had alleged that in one of the scenes in the movie, the symbol of Vanniyar Sangam is shown in the calendar behind the sub-inspector — who stood accused of custodial torture. Agni Kundam, or the symbol depicting a fire emerging from a holy pot, is the symbol of Vanniyar Sangam. By doing this, the complaint states, the filmmakers “clearly exhibited the intention of accused persons, having a malafide intention of defaming the members of Vanniyar Sangam and damaging the image and reputation of the entire Vanniyar community.”
The Vanniyar Sangam said that after it objected to the calendar, the ‘Agni Kundam’ symbol in the calendar has been changed, but that the “movie has already been viewed by several lakhs of people and accused have already damaged the image of the community in the eyes of right-thinking people. Vanniyar community people are defamed in the eyes of the public.”
Vanniyar Sangam sent a legal notice to the film’s makers and sought an unconditional apology. They had demanded the 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.
Jai Bhim, starring actor Suriya in the lead, dealt with how those from lowered castes are mistreated by the police and killed in judicial custody after false cases are foisted upon them. The film had received acclaim from several corners, but was severely opposed by the Vanniyar community. Jai Bhim was produced by 2D Entertainment, which is owned by actor couple Suriya and Jyothika.
Courtesy: The News Minute