In South, films about politics, by politicians
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This election season, there are films about politics, and those directed, written or acted in by politicians. Or their children or grandchildren. The biggest production is Ponnar Shankar, based on a script by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. He had written a novel about legendary twin princes three decades ago; this was adapted into a big-budget period drama.
The audio release was on Sunday. Controversial lottery businessman Santiago Martin's production company had taken up the film for a brief while; now it is being released as a home production of its hero, Prasanth. But political connections are a double-edged sword. A section of the Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam, which is with the DMK this election, says the film wrongly portrays the warrior princes deified by the Gounder community. An objection has been lodged with the censor board, said party student leader M Loganathan. But many feel the issue is about internal politics and will be sorted out soon.
A smaller production has made up for lack of size with virulence. S A Chandrasekar's Sattappadi Kuttram is being publicised as a revolutionary film, taking on the establishment. In the back story, SAC's son, actor Vijay, had faced trouble from the Karunanidhi family of producers and distributors after the senior tried using his son's popularity as a vehicle for his political ambitions. Even as shooting was on, Chandrasekar met J Jayalalithaa at least twice, while Vijay attended an AIADMK public meeting.
Actor and Tamil activist Sathyaraj plays a character who looks like Che Guevara and is named Subhas Chandra Bose, delivering "punch dialogues" apparently targeted at the Congress. In a key role is activist-director Seeman, founder of Naam Tamilar, who has been a critic of the Congress and the DMK for "betraying" the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. He is now in the Opposition camp as a campaigner. Dalit leader and Congress candidate S Selvaperunthagai has complained to the Election Commission that the film bends the code of conduct. Also, a plea in the Madras High Court says the film has a politically charged storyline directed against a particular party. Chandrasekar himself had stated that the movie would attack prevailing politics, says the petitioner, J Rafique, seeking that the release be stopped.