Within hours of MDMK chief Vaiko sending a blow-by-blow deconstruction of why Santosh Sivan’s film Inam (Ceylon in Hindi) was against the interest of Eelam Tamils, the producers of the film decided to stop screening it across the country from Monday. Inam, which has been criticised for being pro-Sinhalese by Vaiko, has been drawing flak ever since TPDK activists attacked theatres in Puducherry, calling for its ban.
Announcing the hasty decision to withdraw the film from theatres, producer N Lingusamy who distributed the film under his Thirrupathi Brothers banner, said that the reasons were part-political. “I have heard that Inam has hurt the sentiments of a few people, but more importantly, problems and confusion of a political nature have been sown using the film. As I do not want problems to be caused during election time, I have decided that all theatres will stop screening Inam as of Monday,” he said.
Inam is reportedly the story of a group of Tamil orphans who attempt to make it out of the war-ravaged island nation, during the last stages of the civil war. The film was directed by ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan and released last weekend, to generally favourable reviews. After the initial protests, Lingusamy had pushed for four scenes and a title card dedicating the film to the lives lost to be cut and a few dialogues muted.
Vaiko took on the film in the harshest terms, and attacked it with bluster. He picked the tack of attacking filmmaker Santosh Sivan’s Malayali roots, and criticised him for making movies that portrayed the LTTE in poor light.
Sivan’s earlier film, Terrorist, had portrayed the preparation and thought processes of a female LTTE suicide bomber. Vaiko took offence to the screen portrayal of the LTTE’s practice of drafting child soldiers. He also expressed outrage at the charitable portrayal of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks.
“Young Tamilians and students must give it a thought. Will a film made by a Tamilian showing Malayalis in poor light ever be allowed to be screened in Kerala?” he asked. Stomping on someone’s pride and reputation and insulting them in the name of cinematic arts is a despicable act, he added.
Though he did not respond to Vaiko’s statement directly, Lingusamy said that they had also been ‘attacked’ personally and as a production house, for the film’s screening. “I am not afraid of anyone, but I do not wish to offend anyone either. That is why I have decided, despite the losses we will incur in compensating theatres and other costs, to stop screening it,” he said.
Though Santosh Sivan remained unavailable for comment, sources close to him indicated that the Hindi version would not be pulled from theatres outside Tamil Nadu.