Tamil News

Jai Bhim: Suriya Responds to Anbumani Ramadoss’ Questions on Authenticity of His Film

Actor-producer Suriya, who was last seen in Jai Bhim, responded on Thursday to questions raised by politician Anbumani Ramadoss on the authenticity of the film and allegations that it shows the Vanniyar community in a poor light.


In a statement addressed to the politician and shared on social media, the actor said it was not the intention of the makers to insult any individual or community with the film, which was meant to highlight the trials faced by the tribal communities.

Jai Bhim, written and directed by TJ Gnanavel, features Suriya as a lawyer who fights for justice for people from the Irular tribal community. The film, which deals with topics such as caste inequality and police brutality, is inspired by a real case at the Madras High Court, fought by Justice Chandru, in the 90s.

The Tamil film opened on November 2 to largely positive reception, including appreciation from the likes of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

However, the Suriya-starrer has also attracted some controversies. Right after its premiere, a section of social media users called out a scene where Prakash Raj’s character slaps another for speaking in Hindi. Others had taken issue with the use of a symbol associated with the Vanniyar caste (a fire urn) in a calendar in another scene. This calendar was later digitally modified by the makers.

And on Wednesday, in a four-page statement, Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a party that represents the interests of the Vanniyars, alleged that the film shows the community in a bad light. He put forth nine questions regarding the film, including why the bad cop was named Gurumoorthy when, in the real case, his name was Anthony Samy. He also questioned the usage of the Vanniyar symbol in the calendar at the inspector’s house.

In his reply statement on Thursday, Suriya clarified that the film is a fictitious take on real events and pointed out that it carries a disclaimer to that effect as well. Adding that unintentional errors had been corrected (referring to the modification of the calendar design), the actor said, “I agree with you that no one has the right to insult any community or group in the name of creative freedom. Likewise, I hope you will agree that creative freedom should also be safeguarded from threats.”

With regard to name of cop character, Suriya said, “A journalist had mentioned that the same name hints at another community. If we keep second guessing like this when it comes to antagonistic characters, there will no end to it. Such ‘name politics’ will only distract those who must come together to fight injustice.”

“I am doing my best to better the lives of my fellow human beings. I have the good wishes and good will of people from all over the country. I have no wish or need to insult anyone to promote myself. Let us all walk the path of righteousness and work for equality and brotherhood. Thank you for your understanding,” he concluded.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, film observer and writer Stalin Rajangam says, “In Tamil cinema, this a period where stories of the oppressed are being told. There has been a shift towards including such hitherto unheard voices, thanks to the movement in that direction spearheaded by Pa Ranjith. And now many people from other groups, like Suriya, are also joining the movement to voice out for the downtrodden. This film also falls within that bracket. Such films are gaining momentum lately and they will garner all sorts of attention, including controversies.”

Noting that the calendar cue could have been avoided, Stalin adds that though the film is based on true events, it is ultimately cinema and is thus bound to incorporate imaginary elements and characters. “For example, in Ramayana, Ravanan’s character is a symbol of evil but he is not, as a person. Similarly, to show that the character is from a dominant community, the makers probably kept that scene. It is but a reflection of society. Anyway, the makers of Jai Bhim have gone ahead and changed the scene now.”

“What we need to observe is the pattern of controversies that are thrown at films like these that talk about the oppressed,” he adds.


J Balasubramaniam, a faculty member of the journalism and science department at Madurai Kamaraj University, echoes Stalin’s views and notes that films should be allowed due creative freedom. “The film is made within the existing social structure. Subtleties, such as the calendar scene, will not be noted by the majority of the audience. Instead, what they will get is the message about the atrocities against the tribal people and the evils of police brutality.”

Jai Bhim is playing a big role in spreading this necessary message about how the oppressed are treated in society,” says Balasubramaniam, adding, “Just keeping a title like Jai Bhim, that too for a film headlined by a popular star, is itself quite progressive for Tamil cinema, which has had films named after castes in the past.”

Jai Bhim is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.