Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan last week stoked a completely needless controversy over the actor Vijay-starrer Mersal, demanding the snipping of dialogues on Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation. Congress veteran P Chidambaram pounced on it and the party president-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi took a jab at the PM, tweeting, “Mr. Modi, Cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don’t try to demon-etise Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal.” For added effect, Rahul’s tweet was translated into Tamil on his Twitter handle, helping it trend across all formats. Can’t blame bots really for how it was consumed.
What was interesting though was that Tamilisai had not seen the movie on the day she made the demand to wield the scissors. She merely said she had been informed about the two ‘objectionable’ scenes. Neither Chidambaram nor Rahul had seen Mersal, but they can’t be faulted as they were merely milking the controversy offered to them on a platter.
Had the voluble Tamilisai cared to catch the movie, she would have realised how casually the two dialogues were thrown in. The de-mon line is about a comedian caught in a hold-up abroad telling a goon his wallet is empty because India now only has digital money. Is that offensive? The GST punch dialogue is part of a diatribe over taxation on medical equipment with the hero partly blaming the tax burden for the lack of free medicare access to all citizens. There is nothing even remotely critical of the new taxation regime.
Goes to show how politicians react without doing their homework. Till about a few years ago, the BJP was courting Vijay, with the actor meeting Narendra Modi in Coimbatore during the run-up to the 2014 general elections. He is now on the discarded list with another BJP leader H Raja giving it a communal twist. He mentioned his rarely-used Christian name, saying it’s Joseph Vijay’s hate campaign against Modi, reminding one of Modi’s famous ‘Mian Musharraf’ quip.