The Vijay-starrer Mersal is making well deserved waves at the box office and captivating the audiences. That would only enlighten his fans. However, this time his flick has hit headlines for wrong reasons and unfortunately, pitted against an uncalled for foe – Narendra Modi.
Twitter, ironically enough the social media partner of Mersal, is abuzz with trends of #MersalVsModi. All this because of an innocuous reference to Goods & Services Tax (GST). The non-existent BJP cadres took offence to the reference and demanded its purging. That raised alarm in the liberal camp, ever on the prowl for any Modi-bashing opportunity, raising calls of fascism and censorship.
Senior actors Kamal Haasan became the latest to join the bandwagon for supporting the movie against an imagined onslaught on the freedom of expression. “Counter criticism with logical response. Don’t silence critics. India will shine when it speaks,” he said on – you guess it – Twitter. The micro-blogging site is his favorite bunker for taking shots on his yet-undefined opponents and charting out yet-undefined plans for Tamil Nadu.
After watching Mersal in one of the theatres in Pune, I found the reference to GST largely inoffensive. And blaming actor Vijay for the same will be simply childish. The actor, while mouthing those dialogues, has not opposed GST nor commented on its inefficacy. He has simply compared the GST rates in Singapore and India and the medical services available in both countries. If there are discrepancies in the lines, and they are, the BJP Tamil Nadu has every right to point out.
After all, like director Atlee’s Theri and Bhairava, Mersal is heavily loaded with social message. This time around, the movie comments on lackluster condition of, or simple lack of, medical infrastructure in India as also rampant malpractices in the profession. Thus, keep aside the Vijay fans and looking through the prism of common audience, especially women, they will take an inaccurate message home and BJP is justified in developing concerns for the same. Neither the rate of GST in Singapore is as quoted in movie nor is medical treatment is free in that country.
Here comes another irony. The Tamil Nadu is ruled by AIADMK and Vijay had campaigned extensively for Jayalalithaa. Therefore, the state has a friendly dispensation for him and yet the actor is seen commenting on its poor performance.
Now, coming to support lent by opposition parties to Mersal, it is useless. And to beat up anti-Modi sentiments over it may actually jeopardise their chances. The movie out and out speaks of Tamil supremacy (Tamilan will rule and Tamil is mother of all language). If those details come out and reach to non-Tamil Indians, all the sympathy earned for the movie may burst in a second. Again, as pointed out above, there is hardly a word against GST in the movie. BJP has just termed dialogue “untruths” and demanded that the references be deleted. Party leader H. Raja wen overboard to claim that the movie exposed Vijay’s “anti-Modi hatred”. Even if these demands create anti-BJP sentiments, they will remain confined to Tamil Nadu, where otherwise also BJP has not much at stake since these leaders do not enjoy any stature outside the state. I wonder how many people, including Hindi TV channel anchors, can pronoune Tamilisai Sounderrajan’s name correctly and how many of them know what post she enjoys! And Modi is nowhere involved in this, not from a long shot!
Therefore, if liberals look to Mersal as another stepstone to take aim at Narendra Modi, they will fall flat on their faces. Mersal is a good movie and a must watch for appreciating the evolving movie making techniques (script, role playing and message packaging). As with Kaththi, it is another Diwali gift to relish.
And an advice for Mr. Atlee, as we watched movie the multiplex charged exorbitant rates for simple tea and coffee (because of which we skipped them). Let your concern for society address this issue in your next movie. How about that?