As Suchi Leaks episode strikes Kollywood, Tamil Nadu gears for TFPC elections
Last week Kollywood was only talking about #SuchiLeaks, with reference to when RJ-turned-singer Suchitra posted controversial tweets, photos and explicit videos. Suchitra's tweets opened a can of worms as she tweeted about the “casting couch and adjustments” in the industry. The tweets were scandalous and was targeting a particular popular star and a young music director.
Suchitra’s husband Karthik Kumar, who is a theatre artist and actor, initially lodged a complaint with the cyber cell of Tamil Nadu crime branch that her account was hacked. However the Twitter handle continued to leak juicy titbits with salacious photographs and videos. Her husband then put out a video saying that Suchitra was going through depression.
Later the account was deactivated, but it resulted in nearly 50 fake accounts coming up within a few hours, which continued to publish all the private intimate photos of celebrities. A complaint has been filed against Suchitra by a little known fringe group India National Leauge Party, which urged the Chennai city police to arrest her.
Adding a new twist to all this drama, Suchitra’s lawyer Ganesh Kanna told The New Indian Express – “Her account was hacked almost four weeks ago. She has not been logging into her account during this time. The only time she logged in was when a friend informed her about the explicit content being posted under her account. When she logged in to suspend her account, she realised that the ‘deactive button was disabled.”
Meanwhile there is legitimate election fever in Kollywood. Elections are being held for Tamil cinema’s most powerful and influential body called Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC).
It will be held on April 2, under the supervision of a retired judge as per High Court orders. In the past, those who control TFPC, were able to hobnob with the ruling party and had enormous clout that could dictate the fate of a film at the box-office.
Seven chief ministers who ruled Tamil Nadu have been from the film industry, and many producers, who in the past were part of TFPC have become MLAs, MPs or ministers. There are many veteran producers, distributors and actors with production houses, dreaming of jumping into Tamil Nadu politics. In the past, only those who had the backing of the ruling party won these elections.
If you are an active producer, it helps to be a part of TFPC’s governing body, as your film will have a smooth release and may even get tax exemption.
Every major Tamil film at the time of release faces financial problems, mostly pertaining to old loans or actors and technicians settlement issues. At the time of release, a producer with connections and power can get his loan taken from private financier adjusted or interest reduced. The current president of TFPC is Kalaipuli S Thanu, last year’s number one producer of super hits - Rajinikanth’s Kabali and Vijay’s Theri. The term of those running TFPC is for two years.
Normally there are just two groups fighting each other in these elections for 27 posts – president (1), treasurer (1), secretaries (2), vice-president (2) and executive committee members (21). The electorate consists of 1212 members most of them are producers who are no longer active.
Today, there are four groups and a lot of lone independents fighting to get elected to Kollywood’s most powerful and influential council. With Tamil Nadu politics and ruling AIADMK splintered, there are many groups trying to take control over TFPC. For the 2017 elections, there are 113 people contesting for the 27 posts.
But what has created deep division in the industry is that a new breed of producers, directors and actors has got into the fray. Popular actor Vishal who is Nadigar Sangam's (actors union) chief is contesting, which has irked traditional producers. The argument is why should an actor who heads a union contest in producer’s association elections?
Those fighting TFPC elections include actors Vishal and Prakashraj, directors Gautham Menon, Mysskin, leading producers like SA Chandrasekhar (Actor Vijay’s father), KE Gnanavel Raja, SR Prabhu, AM Ratnam, Radhakrishnan R, AL Azhagappan, KR and few others. All the four groups and powerful individuals are holding press meets and canvassing among producers to vote for them.
Among the promises being made by various groups is fight against piracy to be strengthened, providing play time to small budget films, tax exemption for all films etc. Like Tamil Nadu politics, some of them are offering freebies like a plot of land, colony to be set up for veteran producers who are part of the vote bank. There are rumours that some of the candidates may even offer cash for votes.
At the same time March will see a record number of releases, mostly small budget films. But the spotlight is clearly on the TFPC elections, as there is a lot riding on it for the key men in the industry.