CHENNAI: Will another Vijay film bite the dust? After the debacle of Thalaivaa’s delayed release and Jilla’s producer sparring with frozen assets, Kaththi’s Deepavali release is on the rocks. With Lyca Productions, a company run by Sri Lankans with unproven links to Mahinda Rajapaksa, refusing to take their name off the film’s banner, theatre owners are caught between a rock and a hard place. Literally.
Most theatre owners who were stung by the violence when Vishwaroopam released — broken glass panes and roughed up booking counters — are more cautious now. “We are not in any mood to fight against any group and get a movie released. Nowadays, movies themselves barely make us money, none of us will be willing to risk any damage for a movie,” said a member of the TN Theatre Owners Association, adding “whichever star’s movie it is,” for emphasis. TNTOA joint president Abirami Ramanathan added, “No theatre owner, including myself, will want to take that kind of risk now. We will take a final call after a meeting on Monday.”
After a day of frenzied meetings between theatre owners, distributors, producers and the protesting Tamizhar Vazhvurimai Katchi, a decision could not be reached. A source in the film chamber said, “From Saturday morning, Karunamoorthy has been telling us that Lyca’s bosses are unwilling to release the film without their name. Every time we offered him a compromise, he would say that he would make a call to London and then waste time.”
The threat from the protestors is clear and present danger. T Velmurugan, who has vehemently been opposing the film’s release made his stand clear. “There is only one thing that we asked for - to remove Lyca’s name, and all the film bodies are in agreement. If they decide to go ahead and release the film, our cadre from 150 pro-Tamil groups will exercise our democratic right to protest at every single theatre,” he said.
Meanwhile, the whole Kaththi team (minus the producers) has been countering the uncertainty by releasing the trailer at 6 pm. Director A R Murugadoss posted the link on twitter and the hits racked up over 1 lakh within a few short hours. Whatever else happens in Tamil Nadu, advance booking is going full swing in a record number of theatres across the rest of the country and the world. “The film has to release in foreign centres. We cannot back out now,” was the curt reply from a Lyca representative.