Madras Cafe – not welcomed by Chennai

I do not support ban; let it be books, movies or anything else. The very fact that my blog exists is because of free speech. But, free speech does not mean one can say anything and get away with it. I believe in free speech that is rational and well informed.

Everybody who wants to be heard must first ask themselves, if they are rational, if they do not hurt others by their lack of knowledge or ignorance; especially if you have a wider audience – you have certain kind of responsibility.

Whenever I talk about my ethnicity – Tamil – I need to assure others that I am Indian as well, and I am neither a Tamil chauvinist nor a nationalist; and to some, that I am not from Sri Lanka. And trust me; I do not talk about my Tamil identity often.

The issue surrounding the Bollywood movie Madras Cafe in Tamil Nadu is crawling to front page as the release date nears. People in South, especially Tamils, always get skeptical when a Bollywood movie claims to tell story about us. Nevertheless, there has been many and there will be many more, and we will always be skeptical as we had been before. And Madras Cafe is honest by not claiming itself to be a movie about Madras.

Madras Cafe is not yet released – the dubbed Tamil version is not certified as well. Given the fact that I have not watched the movie it would be unfair of me to talk about it.

I do not support the calls for banning Madras Cafe, I condemn people who threaten the release of the movie and warn about law and order issue in Tamil Nadu if the movie is released. At the same time I do feel the movie producers have not clarified themselves to the people – the Tamil people of India.

The group that opposes the release does not represent majority of the Tamil people. I even wonder if majority of them are bothered at all, but it is still the responsibility of the movie makers to clarify when there is an accusation against them. It is necessary to reach out to the people directly when a group tries to alienate the artist from the people.

John Abraham did reach out, he reached out to Chennai. Reaching out to Chennai is like reaching out to Mumbai and hoping that it has reached the Marathi people. I don’t think he is naive; he clearly knows his market. The movie has to make its way to Chennai – largest market for the movie in Tamil Nadu. So, he did not bother to reach out to the rest.

What else concerns me about the movie is that; I do not want someone to claim that they have researched extensively for the movie on facts; and distort the history and make the larger civil war trivial. But if the movie does show things sensibly I would be happy, no matter which side it leans to.

Going by the tailor and the news reports it is obvious that the movie is not about Indian Tamils, but it does touches a subject that is linked with our recent history, solely because of the language that we share with Sri Lankan Tamils. So, it shouldn’t bother Indian Tamils, but we do care about the common Tamil people living in Sri Lanka. But ironically, any Indian Tamil movie that had reference to the Sri Lankan civil war were not cleared or had hard time at the censors – is it something selective?

And a not so trivial reason that bothers me a lot is, the last time when Shoojit Sircar and John Abraham joined together, they had a reference in the movie Vicky Donor about how people prefer “pure Aryan babies” – does that ring a bell?

So, am I going to watch Madras Cafe? Yes – and who knows, I might end up liking the movie and might feel silly for writing this article without watching the movie. Nevertheless, this is what I feel about the whole issue as of now.


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