Days after Karnan, the upcoming Tamil film starring Dhanush, ran into legal trouble for its song Pandarathi Puranam, the film’s director Mari Selvaraj issued a statement on Thursday announcing that the song will be renamed as Manjanathi Puranam.
On March 18, Karnan came in the eye of a storm after a plea was filed at the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court over the lyrics of the song Pandarathi Puranam. Filed by Prabhu from Madurai, he had alleged that the lyrics of the song hurts the sentiments of certain communities in Tamil Nadu and asked for the song to be removed. In addition to requesting a ban on the film’s release until action has been taken, Prabhu had asked for the censor certificate of the song to be revoked.
Based on his plea, the court ordered to send legal notices to the makers of Karnan, YouTube, and the Central Board of Film Certification.
Reacting to the controversy, Selvaraj issued a statement on Thursday saying that he has got the support and trust of the public for a “young filmmaker like him” which taught him “how to approach the mystic art that is a cinema with responsibility”.
— Mari Selvaraj (@mari_selvaraj) March 25, 2021
“I have visualised and told the stories of the angels of time – the Pandarathis – who are like my own aunt, sister, grandmother, aunt, in my film. However, the complaints raised by some are not understandable and are unanswerable. In order to solve the debate and disappointment caused by Pandarathi Puranam, we have decided to call Pandarathi as Manjanathi. Why does it matter by what name angels are called? By changing their names, will the light they shine diminish? From now, Manjanathi will be the light for Yamaraja. From now, Yama will now sing Manjanathi Puranam to make Karnan dance and Karnan will dance,” Selvaraj’s statement read.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word pandaram means a Hindu ascetic mendicant of the Sudra or sometimes a lower caste or low-caste Hindu priest of southern India and Ceylon.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Poo Ko Saravanan, a translator based in Chennai said, “Pandaram is a lower-caste community in Tamil Nadu. The person would have taken offence to mention the caste in the song. However, the word is also used as a slur to call someone derogatorily. However, the song does not have anything offensive.”
Saravanan added that manjanathi means Noni tree in Tamil.
J Balasubramaniam, a faculty member at the journalism and science department of Madurai Kamaraj University told Silverscreen India, “Sometimes, the community that is into flower stitching is called poo pandaram. Then it became a word that is used to scold someone. Slurs are either associated with a lower caste or related to degrading women. Hence, even pandaram stemmed from a community’s name. There is also another part of the community that conducts funeral rituals and some clean temples.”
“The song is derived from the folk song, and the filmmaker may have withdrawn the song since it hurt the sentiments,” he said.
Until 3 pm on Friday, the song remained as Pandarathi Puranam on YouTube.
It was released as the second single from Karnan. It is sung by Deva with lyrics written by Yugabharathi. Music has been composed by Santhosh Narayanan.
The film is set to release in theatres on April 9.
Karnan is a period drama set in the 90s against the backdrop of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. The film also stars Malayalam actor Rajisha Vijayan, who will be making her Tamil debut, Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli, Gouri Kishan, Natarajan Subramaniam, and Yogi Babu. It is backed by Kalaippuli S Thanu under V Creations banner.
With inputs from Ramya Ashok Kumar.