Kaala in deep waters

Thalaiva’s blockbuster Kaala has hit choppy waters in the state. Slated to release on June 7, fans have been awaiting superstar Rajinikanth’s latest film with bated breath. With the film banned from release owing to what is being interpreted as universal anger against Rajinikanth, after his comments on the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, pro-Karnataka organisations had pressured the KFCC for a ban. They had argued that Rajinikanth had taken an anti-Karnataka stand on the Cauvery issue. The actor/politician’s alleged statement earlier, “Whichever government comes to power in Karnataka should implement the Supreme Court order about Cauvery water sharing,” is at the heart of the ban. The Kannada film industry speaks about the issue and what lies ahead for Kaala, which has entered its own ‘black’ phase even before its release.

The Rajini-starrer, which sees the Thalaiva playing a good Samaritan seeking justice against the atrocities of a landlord played by Nana Patekar, is a no-show in Karnataka. 

Throughout history, icons have supported causes, and been instrumental in bringing the cause to the fore. Director Indrajit Lankesh is a huge fan of Rajnikanth, but he feels that one should not mix politics with entertainment, “Rajnikanth is a star actor, and I am a huge fan of his. But as a politician, what has he done for the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu other than entertain? Has he come forward and solved the problems of the people? He has never gone on to the streets and protested or worked towards their welfare. He has enjoyed being a star. He has enjoyed all the facilities a star has. Now, out the blue, he wants to be a politician and play with the sentiments of the people, I think what the KFCC has done is justified. The people of Karnataka and the farmers have been suffering for decades. I think the move is justified as it just a film that is being released, and he has to be answerable to the people of Karnataka as he has got fans here. Fans feel proud that he is such a big star in the Tamil film industry. But going against them as a politician is seeing which side of  the bread is buttered. I feel it’s fair that Kannadigas are protesting and banning his film.” 

Politics and cinema have always had a tentative connect. Director KM Chaitanya feels, “Combining politics with cinema is something that has been done for a long while. When a film actor acts, there is no issue but the minute he takes a political stand, he has supporters and followers who go by what he says. And if what he has said is against the Kannada interest then it is wrong. I feel that if you speak against Kannada, then one should not expect money from the people as well. We have our own self-respect and dignity. If anyone respects us, and gives us what is due, we are okay. Kannadigas are known to be very hospitable and generous people who don’t take offense needlessly. If what he has said is against the Kannada interest, then I think the chamber would have reacted to it on behalf of the Kannada industry. Of course, there is always the court route. The release and non-release of films or anything that happens in the country comes under the court’s purview. So what the court decides will be the final. Ka
rnataka is a big market and I am sure that it will affect profits. What he expects to get from the state will definitely take a beating.”

With this ban, the livelihood of many people connected to the film will be affected. Actor Chetan Kumar feels that the crew should not be affected, “Although, I don’t know the details, there are hundreds of people involved in the making of a film. I don’t believe the politics of the lead actor should be a factor in banning a film. A film is a livelihood for many, technicians, who are more responsible for the film’s success or failure. Just because of a political inclination of one person goes against the interests of certain people in  Karnataka who claim to have fought hundreds of questionable issues in the past, I don’t think the film chamber should ban it. There is definitely something wrong here. This doesn’t mean that I agree with whatever Rajnikanth said. I think people who have a problem with his speech should realise he made it not as a part of the film, but as an independent person.” 

Sa Ra Govindu, KFCC Chairperson avers, “Over 50 pro-Karnataka organisations have asked to stop the release of Kaala in the state. Rajnikanth wanted the Central government to organise the Cauvery Tribunal Board, which was against what these organisations wanted. This was why they asked for a ban.” 

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