What is the need for Tamil Film Industry to blatantly lie on political issues?

Chest thumping punch dialogues on social equality, emotional outcry of entry into Politics, extending support to farmers, ridiculing Hindu practices and a pinch of Tamil pride; put all these together into a cauldron with three hours of melodrama and presto… You get what can be called as a Tamil block buster movie.

Right from the days of M G Ramachandran (MGR) & Shivaji Ganesan to Superstar Rajinikanth & Kamal Hassan and current heroes like Vijay Joseph, T R Silambarasan, Vijay Sethupathi & Vishal Krishna, most of these actors have one thing in common. They way these male heroes have built up or in the process of building up a career, based on a separatist Tamil pride or a promise of entry into Tamil Nadu politics.

Barring Rajinikanth, most of these Heroes have made it a point to directly/indirectly mock certain aspects Hindu culture or disassociate Tamil culture from Hindus, in order to succeed in this Industry.

With the exception of M G R who went on to become a three time elected Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and Shivaji Ganesan who couldn’t keep up with antics of certain irresponsible political leaders, all other heroes have never tried to live up to their on-screen promises. By proclaiming that they never did anything related to what they had promised on-screen, I meant contesting in elections or working for the Tamil people as they had proclaimed on several of their movies.

One would probably ask, why do all these male heroes make so much melodrama, if they have failed to keep up their promises? The answer is pretty simple, by promising to stand with you as your future leader, they keep up their emotional quotient in the Tamil Film Industry. It is not just these above mentioned heroes, but several Tamil directors (Sebastian Seeman, V. Gowthaman & Ameer Sultan) and Tamil actors (Satyaraj & Prakash Raj) claim to spread social messages to the society, to make certain they stay on top in their respective markets.

It is to be noted that Sebastian Seeman has now started a Tamil separatist political party called “Naam Tamilar”, on similar lines to the “Jammu & Kashmir’s Hurriyat”, and has proclaimed Hitler & Saddam Hussein to be his ideological heroes. Sebastian Seeman, a church backed LTTE sympathizer, has never shied away from asking for a separate Tamil Nadu or backing Anti-Nationals for political gain.

To understand this further, let us take the example of Vijay Joseph’s recent block buster movie called ‘Mersal‘. Vijay, on several occasions has been trying to enter into the political arena of Tamil Nadu. This movie has been directed by one of the young directors in Tamil film industry by the name of Atlee aka Arun Kumar.

One of the recent techniques used by producers from Indian movie industry to make a block buster movie a big hit, is to release it across thousands of screens. Even before the audience realizes the worth of the movie, the movie ensures a profit for the producer. Hence, I always make it a point to watch the review of the movie by Tamil Talkies, a fairly non biased movie review YouTube channel.

Most Tamil block buster movies do not rely on any form for it’s story, and on similar lines of review from Tamil Talkies, this movie seems to run on a old wine in new bottle formula. In-fact if one can understand tamil, he/she can listen to how this reviewer accuses the director of stealing scenes and dialogues from popular movies (Now you see me) and social networking sites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp1L2uK2Yog

Apart from copying scenes from several other movies, one of the biggest shockers revealed by several movie fans of this Vijay Joseph starer, is that the movie rides on fake information from social networking sites without any fact check. An expose of all the fake information propagated in the movie can be explained below.

The movies suggests that countries like Singapore, which collects GST (Goods and Services Tax), provide free medical treatment to all its citizens and compares the situation with that of India. The statement is not only false but can be considered highly irrelevant.

Firstly, the population of Singapore is hardly 57 Lakhs, the film makers are comparing this with a country like India which houses nearly 132.40 crores of people (as per 2016). Singapore has been implementing GST from the year 1994, comparing it with India which has implemented GST for the past three months, is not only ironical but shows complete immaturity from these film makers.

Secondly, Singapore definitely doesn’t provide free Medical care to all it’s citizen. All employed personnel in Singapore, pay a mandatory percentage of their salary upfront in the form of Medical Insurance to the government. In spite of paying this Medical Insurance, there is a price classification in the way patients are admitted to this hospital. It is only the open ward patients who are free of taxation from GST, all other patients must pay a mandatory 7% towards GST.

If one compares the selected surgery costs that occur in the Government Hospitals of India, it is comparatively less to several developed countries. But there is definitely a crying call to improve infrastructure facilities in India and this will certainly take time since the Medical system in India is infiltrated by several corrupt politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats.

In one part of the movie, a dialogue appears suggesting that all medicines in India are valued at a tax bracket as high as 12% GST. This again is an incorrect piece of information since post GST scenario all life saving drugs have been reduced to 5% GST. Apart from this, many are aware of the 85% reduction in coronary stents and 69% reduction in knee replacement systems.

The biggest blatant lie of them all was the fact that the movie hinted that the Indian Government is charging 0% GST towards liquor. To understand this issue, we need to know how the liquor business runs in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) is a company owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the state. It was founded by M G Ramachandran and subsequently endorsed by both successive Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) governments under M Karunanidhi and J Jaylalithaa. Hence we can conveniently arrive at a conclusion that all political parties enjoy a big chunk of profit from this industry.

Tamil Nadu, the state which once had a history of prohibition (by C. Rajagopalachari in 1937), is the only government in the whole of India which earns money by directly selling liquor to its citizens. The sales graph below shows you that this is probably the most profitable business in the state and the citizens of the state are always in a state of high.

It is a well known fact that both petroleum and liquor are exempted from GST, under the request of several State Governments. This is done with the sole intention of the fact that State Government should end up losing revenue, if the Central Government decides to reduce the tax on both these products.

As per a report from Business Standard, “Liquor manufactured in the state is taxed at 58 per cent, which is the first point. At the second point of sales, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac), a state government-run unit that controls the supply of liquor, it is taxed at 38 per cent.” Taxes on alcohol make up a major chunks of state revenues — for instance, in Kerala it contributes 22 percent of revenue, while in Tamil Nadu it yields about ₹26,995 crore (Excise Revenue ₹6,248 crore and VAT (sales tax) was ₹20,747 crore) in 2016-17. 

Tamil Nadu state BJP President Tamilisai Soundarrajan, said that the scenes related to GST and Digital India in Mersal must be removed. She further went on to accuse actor Vijay of spreading false information because he wants to enter politics.

So hence the biggest question is, how come this film was able to blatantly lie on several facts and still ensured that it got a Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)? What is even more surprising is that the BJP had nominated personalities like Gautami Tadimala, who are known close to the state leadership as part of the board members. Why didn’t these members take action at the appropriate time? How come an actor like Vijay who has been accused of partially evading tax for five years in 2015, can squarely blame the Central Government on the same taxation issue?

Whatever be the reason, the fact remains that Tamil Nadu has been one of the biggest failures of BJP, in spite of having a Prime Minister like Narendra Modi. Also it doesn’t look like there is any comeback for the state BJP leadership anytime soon.

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