CHENNAI:A panel comprising almost entirely veterans from the cinema industry like actor M N Rajam, singer L R Easwari and composer Sankar Ganesh rejected the entertainment tax exemption claim filed by the makers of Kamal Haasan’s Papanasam. Surprisingly, the panel that was appointed by the Commercial Taxes Department of the State government to view the film and give their recommendations objected to a host of things in the film - ranging from the ‘disturbing act’ of showing a young student filming his equally young classmate while she is bathing in the nude to excessive violence exerted by the police on children in the line of interrogation.
One common thread that also got their hackles up was the fact that the protagonist (Kamal) gets his family off the hook after they killed a young man in self-defence - an act that should have been met with some form of retribution, according to the panelists. Papanasam is almost a scene-to-scene remake of Jeethu Joseph’s hit Malayalam film Drishyam, starring Mohanlal. The film revolves around a father who tries to save his family from serving time after a young man threatening his daughter is killed inadvertently. A thriller for the most part, the film was a runaway hit in Malayalam and has since been remade in Telugu and Tamil and the Hindi version is in production. The film released on July 3 and has grossed quite well - despite the ET slap. With a 15% levy on ticket rates and `120 cap on ticket costs, the producers are losing a sizeable chunk of their takings due to the rejection.
Some of the comments recorded by the panelists have been downright sharp. Yesteryear singer A L Raghavan’s comment in the GO on the TN government website read, “The scene where a young man films a young girl bathing in the nude and tries to use it to rape her and the scene where policemen mercilessly beat young children to exhort the truth from them is worrying. These scenes should be removed and any person who commits wrong should face the punishment for it,” he said before recommending a rejection.
Of the seven members who watched the film, two said that the film should not be given exemption, three said that it was not eligible for exemption and one said that it could be avoided. Most often, films that are given a U certificate and have a Tamil title and do not have excessive violence are given the tax exemption almost by rote. Papanasam was possibly the only film featuring Kamal Haasan since 2013’s Vishwaroopam that was billed as a ‘trouble-free, family entertainer’, but even that looks like it has to face the ET tide.
A source with the film’s unit said that they were not unduly worried about it because the censors had given them a clean chit with no cuts and it was unfortunate that they couldn’t get the tax exemption. “The film is doing well so there is little to complain about,” she said.