Baahubali 2's Karnataka release in jeopardy; did trade disagreement snowball into political row?
Will Baahubali 2: The Conclusion release in Karnataka?
There's a likelihood that SS Rajamouli's highly awaited epic — the sequel to 2015's blockbuster Baahubali: The Beginning — may not see a release in the state. Potentially playing spoilsport is the Bengaluru Bandh that has been declared for 28 April 2017 — the day Baahubali 2 is scheduled to release. The bandh has been called by pro-Kannada regional groups who have objected to the presence of Sathyaraj in the film (he plays the pivotal role of Kattappa) — specifically, some anti-Kannada statements the Tamil actor purportedly made when the Cauvery issue was at its height.
In the midst of this crisis, Rajamouli and the makers of Baahubali 2 rushed to Bengaluru in a bid to resolve the issue. They are said to have met with actor Ambarish and Karnataka Film Chamber president Sa Ra Govind, requesting them to mediate. But the pro-Kannada groups are sticking to their guns and have said they will only call off the bandh if Sathyaraj comes to Bengaluru and apologises to the people of Karnataka. Meanwhile, a proposed promotional event for Baahubali 2 in Bengaluru that the cast and crew was expected to attendon Thursday, 20 April 2017, has already been cancelled.
Pro-Kannada organisations under the umbrella of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) are staunch in wanting an apology from Sathyaraj. Praveen Shetty, the president of the KRV, was quoted in The News Minute as saying “Why are directors [sic] pleading with the film chamber and senior actors in Karnataka? He had called us dogs during the Cauvery issue. We want a public apology from Sathyaraj, only then will the film be allowed to release in Karnataka.”
It was almost 10 years ago that Sathyaraj is said to have made the controversial statement. Why the pro-Kannada elements are raking it up now after Baahubali: The Beginning and many other Tamil films starring Sathyaraj had a smooth release in Karnataka is unclear.
SS Rajamouli in a television interview to India Today when asked about the controversy, had said: “I (have) worked with Sathyaraj for almost five years and I could have never ever imagined he is a person who could hurt someone. Some videos were posted on the internet. When we started inquiring, we learned that whatever comments Sathyaraj made... this was nine years ago. And after that, about 30 films of his were released in Karnataka. Baahubali 1 released there as well. No one had problems with that. And suddenly, raking up the issue at this point in time is not right. He (Sathyaraj) is not the director of the film. He is not the writer or producer or the hero. He is just a supporting actor. He acted in the film and took his remuneration and went away. So whatever people do against Baahubali 2 will not affect him in any manner. It is sad. I think people will understand the issue and it will be resolved.”
For the Baahubali 2 producers, Karnataka — mainly the Bengaluru multiplexes and the state's border areas with Andhra Pradesh — are key markets. Baahubali 1, as per trade sources, is the highest collecting other language film (from among Hindi, English,Telugu, Malayalam) in Karnataka. It is rumoured to have taken a record distributor share of Rs 35 crore from Karnataka alone. It is the only state where all three versions (Telugu, Hindi and Tamil) of the film will be released.
The answer to why a 10-year-old statement is now being raked up may be as follows:
A few months ago, Baahubali 2 became the hottest film in the Karnataka trade, and many tried to procure it. But the producers of the film could not get the price that they were asking. This led to a lot of jealousy and rivalry in the local trade, which may have led to raking up a 10-year old issue, which nobody imagined. Now the film is going to be directly marketed in Karnataka by Arka Media, the producers, via NM Entertainment Sudhir. Meanwhile hectic parleys are going on to sort out the issue over the ban, which has snowballed into a political row.
The latest update is this video released by Rajamouli on Twitter:
An appeal to all the Kannada friends... pic.twitter.com/5rJWMixnZF
— rajamouli ss (@ssrajamouli) April 20, 2017