The Vanniyar Sangam on Thursday wrote a letter to the Directorate of Film Festivals, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Information and Public Relations Department, asking them not to consider Jai Bhim, actor Suriya’s recently-released Tamil film, for any recognition or appreciation.
In the letter, a legal representative for the Vanniyar Sangam writes that various scenes in the film are “defamatory” and intend to “cause disrepute” to the community. The letter also states that certain scenes are “deliberately included with a view to create communal disharmony.”
Jai Bhim, which is Suriya’s 39th film, is inspired by a real case from the 90s fought by Justice Chandru at the Madras High Court. The actor plays a lawyer who fights for justice for people from the Irular tribal community. The film was released on Amazon Prime Video on November 2.
The letter from the Vanniyar Sangam points to specific instances in Jai Bhim that the community takes issue with. These include the antagonist police character being called Gurumoorthy, which resembles the name of “one of the frontline leaders” of the Vanniyar Sangam, and the usage of the fire urn, which is a “sacred symbol” for the Vanniyars, on a calendar at the house of the antagonist.
The real name of the inspector involved in the incident, a Christian, was Anthonysamy as opposed to Guru, the letter states. While other characters have been named after the real persons in the case, the film has deliberately named the antagonist Guru to project him as belonging to the Vanniyar community, it alleges.
The letter further argues that though the film is based upon the real story of the misery undergone by an underprivileged couple, it does not “deserve any recognition or appreciation” in view of its “mischievous sequences.”
The letter concludes by calling upon the national film bodies to not consider Jai Bhim “for any appreciation or recognition either by considering it for a National award or any other award whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, the film recently surpassed The Shawshank Redemption (1994) to become the highest-rated movie on IMDB.
However, despite opening to a largely positive reception, Jai Bhim has disgruntled the Vanniyar community.
Earlier, Suriya responded to the allegations of Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the political outfit representing the Vanniyars, and clarified that it was not the makers’ intention to hurt any individual or community. Not satisfied with the actor’s response, on Monday, Vanniyar Sangam’s state president, Pu Tha Arulmozhi, issued a legal notice to the makers of the film for “criminal and civil defamation,” alleging that the Suriya-starrer shows their community in a poor light.
In the wake of the controversy, several from the film fraternity, including filmmaker Vetri Maaran and actor Siddharth, have extended their support to the actor on social media using the trending hashtag #WeStandWithSuriya.