John was hallucinating when he wanted to release Madras Cafe in Chennai

G Pramod Kumar

Aug,23 2013 18:27:28 IST

So, actor-producer and now a RAW-agent on film, John Abraham will have to junk the dubbed version of his Madras Cafe. Despite a censor certificate and a Madras High Court refusal for a ban, his movie will not release in Chennai.

The additional expenditure for inserting Tamil voices may have been marginal and beaming digital copies all over Tamil Nadu wouldn’t have cost him much. Therefore, there is no point in counting losses — Tamil Nadu is not a great market for Hindi films either.

A still from the film Madras Cafe.

A still from the film Madras Cafe.

And if he feels that people in Chennai missed his work of art, he doesn’t need to worry — they will get to see it in a few weeks in original or pirated DVDs.

This must be a lesson for John, who sounded school-boyish when he spoke about India being a democracy, respecting different points of view and asking people in Chennai to support him by watching it in defence of his film. It’s not the courts or the statutory bodies that decide freedom of expression these days, but the politics of public opinion. If he thought that in Tamil Nadu he could release a movie with the reported content of Madras Cafe, under the present political circumstances, either he has no clue of India or he is fooling himself.

The plight of Madras Cafe in Chennai and elsewhere in Tamil Nadu was outright rejection — the theatres were simply not interested because they knew the consequences. When there are more than a dozen movies waiting for release at any time, why should they take a risk? Even during the height of the controversy, the distributors had advertised for the movie without theatre-listing, but no theatre showed interest. Now they have lined up other movies, started advance booking and hence Madras Cafe is definitely not going to be seen in Chennai.

There is no point in arguing who is right and who is wrong. The Tamil groups and parties are justified in their outrage — the Sri Lankan Tamil issue is a genuine political issue in the state.

The spontaneous and statewide students’ agitation during the anti-Sri Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva a few months ago, Jayalalithaa’s assembly resolution against Sri Lanka and even the DMK’s opportunistic pull-out from the UPA were not politically insignificant developments. In such an environment, if John wanted to release a movie in Tamil Nadu that allegedly features LTTE leader Prabhakaran as a terrorist and dumps down the conflict, he must have been hallucinating.

Updated Date: Aug 23, 2013 18:27 PM