Before independence, there were leaders, some of whom transformed into political leaders over years and then became politicians. As it is the quality of subordination that catapults one’s political career, leaders are slowly eliminated from the political spectrum. There was a constant remark about politicians during eighties when they were called “Mikasurs”, those jump into long, unwinding and meaningless speeches. Good journalists who wanted to trap a politician, placed a microphone in his hands and listened till he started talking nonsense. Most Politicians of current generation start talking nonsense the moment they hold the microphone. Earlier there was a need to trap them, now they are more than willing to walk into the net.
Fighting Congress for long, BJP has acquired some strengths of the Grand Old Party and many weaknesses as well. One of them is creating controversies. Some BJP leaders are so adept at creating controversies they can become professional magicians – much like the character of Vijay in the Tamil film ‘Mersal’.
Well, there is an instance in Mersal where Vadivelu, the comedian tells someone that there is no money in India and everyone is standing in queue to withdraw their own money – an apparent indirect dig at demonetisation. Do you think this is the only reference to demonetisation in films? Slipped out of the radar of intelligent politicians was Jr NTR starrer Telugu film “Jai Lava Kusa”. Playing the role of a conman, NTR’s character hands over to Pradeep Rawat a ₹5000/- note with a whisper in his ears: I received a call from the Governor that even 2K notes would be banned. And, this movie collected some ₹175CR in ten days.
Indirect comment on demonetisation in Mersal pales in comparison to episodes in Jai Lava Kusa. Still, Mersal became talk of the town – sorry, the nation. At the end of the film, Vijay (character Vetri, the Magician) gives a little speech about why politicians who give away Mixers, Televisions for free would not talk about giving free medication. Continuing his dialogue, he questions “If Singapore that levies 7%GST can give free medicines, why can’t our government that levies 28% GST give free medicines? The GST on medicines is 12% btw, but there is no GST on liquor that spoils families”.
Technically, these dialogues are not correct. In Singapore, 98% citizens pay taxes and we all know is that number of tax payers have increased from 4 to 6 crores, post demonetisation. And, alcohol is kept out of GST only to retain the high tax that is in the range of 50 to 75%.
But, is a film about facts and authenticity? If one wants to find facts that are authentic, one should watch documentaries and not films. Films are about fiction, imagination and providing ‘what if’ scenarios. When NTR was CM, Congress roped in its own bunch of actors and produced a slew of films to criticise him. Well, few of them ran averagely, while others flopped. Why? NTR, the man who knew the film industry inside out chose to ignore them, so they died their natural death.
On the other hand, BJP is a growing party with many politicians competing for ‘powerful positions’, I presume. To get noticed by the High-Command i.e., the duo of Modi-Shah they tried to work in overtime shifts where there was no work required at all. First, the Tamil Nadu state BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan wanted Mersal dialogues to be cut lest a wrong message is spread. It was her job to spread the correct information to the electorate and she could have done it without cutting dialogues in a film. If she felt that a ten second dialogue in a film was going to damage the reputation of the government, she only indicated that the government has no reputation.
Then, there was the second one – H Raja of BJP who tweeted Vijay’s voter ID card only to ‘expose’ his religion. Okay, Vijay’s full name is Joseph Vijay and he is Christian. So, what? His father’s name was Chandrasekharan. Did Mr Raja note that? If Chandrasekharan converted into Christianity, why can’t Raja have a spiritual discussion with Chandrasekharan and convince him? The constitution has given the ‘right to propagate’ to Raja as well. And, by raking up the religious identity, Raja played into the hands of Congress, DMK and other opposition parties. Well, was it not the minority appeasement of Congress that helped BJP to consolidate its voters? Was Raja not helping the opposition by raking up the ‘religion’ issue unnecessarily? On part of Raja, it is a case of not only Bad Taste, but a case of Bad Politics too. No doubt, BJP is scoring only self-goals in Tamilnadu.
Before the controversy over Tamil version died down, there were reports of these dialogues being cut in the Telugu version by CBFC. I wonder how CBFC can find these dialogues acceptable in Tamil but not in Telugu. Had it been Congress, they would have ensured that these dialogues would never have made it to the final version allowed by CBFC, but BJP is not as efficient as Congress in these departments.
When compared with Kaththi or Thuppakki or even the (flopped) Bairavaa, Mersal is more a revenge film than a film that deals with a social cause, despite the serious attempt. The film was a hit as no other major film was released except Spyder, the bilingual thriller of Mahesh Babu.
Mersal would have been an average hit, but thanks to the help producers received from BJP, it became a earthshattering success. The film opened very well, but it could sustain only by the sustained movement by BJP.
Shatrughan Sinha had the final bite. As reported in Economic Times, “Has anyone heard the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) or any of the top leaders commenting on the Mersal issue? It is only some elements in our party who are eager to prove that they are more loyal than the others,” Sinha said. But, there are some who are experts in the art of waking up the sleeping donkey only to get kicked. It is high time BJP start periodical workshops for all its senior members who get a chance to talk over a mike.
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