The ruling AIADMK is up in arms against Tamil film star Vijay's Diwali release 'Sarkar' for its reported reference to former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, besides the alleged depiction of certain government schemes in bad light.
Senior AIADMK ministers demanded that the contentious scenes be deleted, and threatened to initiate legal action if the latter failed to comply.
However, rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran claimed Jayalalithaa was never addressed by the name mentioned in the film but charged commercial intent behind showing the AIADMK's 'freebies' in bad light.
Law Minister C Ve Shanmugham said certain scenes amounted to inciting violence and warned of action.
"The scenes relating to burning of items disbursed under government welfare schemes amount to inciting violence. Whether it is the producer (Sun Pictures) or actor (Vijay), or theatres-- they will have to face action," he told reporters.
Reports suggested that certain scenes show grinder, mixers and fans being burnt, seen as an obvious reference to the late Jayalalithaa's flagship schemes of providing these items free of cost, in line with an electoral promise in 2011.
AIADMK workers staged a protest outside a theatre in Madurai demanding that certain scenes be removed. A show was also cancelled. Workers said they would not allow the film to be screened till "derogatory" scenes and dialogues were removed, the police said.
At some movie halls in Coimbatore and Chennai, banners of the film and that of Vijay were damaged allegedly by AIADMK supporters. Some AIADMK workers staged a sit-in at a theatre in Coimbatore seeking a ban on the film.
On a character whose name has purported reference to Jayalalithaa, Jayakumar said it was an attempt at "maligning" the late party chief and sought legal action against the crew.
He also wondered if the filmmakers could have come up with such a flick when Jayalalithaa was alive and said her death has "emboldened" them.
"If they (Vijay) had spelt out their policies, ideology and if the movie is reflective of that, it is fine. But in order to project themselves, to trample over others' sentiments and hurting them, that is not acceptable," he said.
Referring to the films of matinee idol and AIADMK founder, former chief minister M G Ramachandran, Jayakumar said the late leader's films never carried such content.
In an apparent reference to MGR's elevation from a film star to chief minister, he said "not all can become MGR."
Lashing out at Vijay, Information Minister Kadambur C Raju said "This is not good for a growing actor like Vijay."
"The matter has come to the government's notice. We will advise them to remove the scenes. If they do it themselves it's fine, otherwise, we will decide the next course of action," he said.
Meanwhile, Dhinakaran lashed out at the 'Sarkar' team, saying there was commercial intent behind the controversies.
He, however, denied that a particular woman character's name had reference to Jayalalithaa.
"Komalavalli (the character's name) is not Amma's name at all. In 2002-03 when a Congressman referred to her by this name, Amma herself said this was not her name and that she had not even done any such film role," he said.
However, the film was produced with "commercial intent and they have to do something" to make it a success, he added.
"You know who the producers are," he said, in an apparent referrence to Sun Pictures, owned by the Maran brothers of the DMK's extended first family.
"I was told that the free grinder, mixie are burnt. If they had burnt free colour TV also we can say that there is a sense of objectivity," he added.
Late DMK chief M Karunanidhi's poll-time promise of providing free colour TVs to every household if elected to power in the 2006 Assembly polls had significantly helped the party win the polls then.
Dhinakaran also ridiculed the Ministers for "just giving publicity" for the multi-crore venture.
Meanwhile, actor-politician Karuppiah, a former AIADMK MLA who switched over to DMK, seemed to see no reason behind the demand for removal of the contentious scenes, saying it was released only after being cleared by the Censor Board.
He claimed some of his dialogues referring to Karunanidhi had been "muted."
Recalling BJP's opposition to Vijay's 2017 movie 'Mersal', he said the party had made the film a grand success and that the AIADMK was now going to do the same for 'Sarkar.'
'Sarkar,' produced by Sun Pictures stars Vijay and Keerthi Suresh in key roles. It is directed by AR Murugadoss and has music by Oscar winner AR Rahman.The film had earlier courted a pre-release controversy over plagiarism.
An aspiring filmmaker claimed that the film's story was his, following which Murugadoss went in for a compromise with the claimant.
Incidentally, 'Mersal' had seen BJP protesting over certain "incorrect" references to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)