Murali Ramasamy, who produces Tamil films under the Sri Thenandal Films banner, won the Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC) election that was held at the MGR Janaki College in Adyar, Chennai on Sunday and will soon officially be appointed as the president of TFPC.
The Tamil Film Producers’ Council, formed in 1979, is a union for film producers based in Tamil Nadu. The TFPC regulates and monitors the affairs of film producers and helps mediate issues to help its members produce and release films. The body conducts elections every two years to elect its office bearers.
In 2017, Tamil actor and producer Vishal was elected the President of TFPC in a hotly contested election. His election had been preceded by months of contentious campaigning and mudslinging, with Vishal accusing the then leadership of the TFPC for not taking any measures against movie piracy. In November that year, the TFPC suspended Vishal from the council for three months due to his statements.
Vishal later moved the Madras High Court seeking a stay on the suspension and also began to gather a team to contest the TFPC elections. In February 2017, the TFPC revoked the suspension following orders from the Madras High Court.
Vishal, who was already the secretary of South Indian Artistes’ Association – a union for actors, began actively campaigning for the TFPC elections. His team – Namma Ani- won the election after a campaign focused on ending piracy and bringing down costs for producing films.
After winning the election, Vishal’s stint as president was as contentious as the campaign. Even though he started well enough – as the assessment of his tenure from Silverscreen India shows – he soon became mired in controversy. In early 2018, a whistleblower had alleged that Vishal struck a deal with Lyca Productions, after the company was accused of being behind the domain names of several websites that released pirated films. Several office-bearers in the council that had contested the election as part of Vishal’s team – including actor and producer RK Suresh, actor Udaya, Producers KE Gnanavel Raja, PL Thenappan and Sathya Jyothi Thyagarajan – resigned from their positions due to differences with him.
Vishal also received flak from the council for attempting to contest the legislative assembly by-elections for the RK Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu, a bizarre move that ended with his nomination being rejected by the Election Commission.
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In 2018, Vishal ran into trouble with opposition members on the council, including producers T Siva, Sathya Jyoti Thyagarajan, AL Azhagappan and others, who demanded his resignation, alleging misappropriation of funds and inaction against piracy. The producers from the opposition group locked and sealed the offices of the association to prevent Vishal from gaining entry. Vishal then attempted to break in and was arrested.
The spate of controversies culminated in a finding by the Government of Tamil Nadu that some of the association’s leaders had violated provisions of the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, and in April 2019, this led to the Government stepping in and appointing N Sekar, a bureaucrat, to manage the council’s functions for a year until elections could be held again.
In another development earlier this year, director P Bharathiraja formed an association called the “Tamil Film Active Producers Association” claiming that the TFPC was being impeded by members that were no longer producing films. Bharathiraja’s association – formed to represent the interests of active producers – would continue to treat the TFPC as a parent body, and its members would be members of the TFPC as well.
The TFPC elections were originally slated to be held on June 21 but was postponed. Former High Court Judge M Jayachandran, who was appointed to oversee the elections, announced the election date last month. Vishal did not participate in the elections this time.
The TFPC election was held this Sunday (Nov 22), with over a thousand members voting.
Murali 557 votes, handily defeating the other contenders for the post of president, T Rajendar and Thenappan, who secured 388 and 87 votes. Ramasamy’s , a prominent Chennai based production and distribution house was founded by his father, the late director and producer Rama Narayanan. The studio has produced several popular films including Aranmanai, Demonte Colony, Maya, and actor Vijay’s Mersal, which was its 100th production. Thenandal Studio is currently producing SJ Suryah’s Iravaakaalam and Bobby Simha’s Vallavanukku Vallavan.
RK Suresh, who was part of Vishal’s team of office bearers and resigned midway through his tenure, won as part of Ramasamy’s group. Suresh becomes a Vice President, joining Kathiresan, of Five Star Creations, – also part of Ramasamy’s group – who will be the other Vice President.
Producers Radhakrishnan from Ramasamy’s team and Mannan from T Rajendar’s team won as well, and will serve as Secretaries of the Council, while Producer Chandraprakash Jain from Ramasamy’s team will be the next Treasurer.
Addressing the press after the election on Sunday, Ramasamy said, “Our manifesto has spoken about how there are many films that are yet to be released due to COVID-19 and if we are elected, we will work with the producers who have been affected.”