Suriya and Jai Bhim director TJ Gnanavel have got a legal notice from the Vanniyar Sangam on Monday in which the outfit has demanded them to pay Rs 5 crore for allegedly degrading the community in the movie, which has successfully hit a fortnight by garnering immense welcome and positive reviews across and beyond the borders that it has become the most rated Indian film on IMDb.
The legal notice has thrown more weight on the accusations made by PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss against the movie. It is to be noted that PMK has a strong voter base from the Vanniyar community in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. According to reports, the state president of the Vanniyar Sangam has issued a legal notice to Suriya and TJ Gnanavel in which the president has demanded the makers of the movie to tender an unconditional apology and remove the scenes from the movie that are defamatory against the community.
The notice was sent by advocate Baalu, a PMK leader, on behalf of Pu Tha Arulmozhi, the president of the Vanniyar Sangam. Besides Suriya and Gnanavel, the notice has also included the names of Suriya's wife Jyothika, who produced the movie under the banner of 2D Entertainment, and a representative of Amazon, as the movie was directly released on Amazon Prime Video on November 2. The notice has urged the makers to cease making or publishing any false, malicious, and defamatory remarks against the Vanniyar community and its people.
The notice has claimed that certain scenes were taken against the community and also said that a scene in the movie where 'Agni Kundam' (a pot with the fire) is seen printed on a calendar. The president of the outfit has said that Agni Kundam is a symbol of Vanniyars and it was seen in the residence of the policeman, who tortures Rajakannu, a tribal man from the Irular community. It further claimed that the movie tends to conceptualize the Vanniyars in an inappropriate manner as it has shown the policeman, who is the sub-inspector, as a Vanniyar.
The notice further said that this was made to deliberately degrade the Vanniyar Sangam and to spoil the reputation of the entire Vanniyar community. The advocate has said, "Our client says that you (Suriya and the team) have retained the real names of the real characters in the real incident in the movie. But deliberately you have changed the name of the sub-inspector. In the real story, the sub-inspector was called Anthonysamy, who was a Chrisitan by religion."
In the movie, the name of the sub-inspector goes by Gurumurthy and according to the notice, the name represents Kaaduvetti Guru, a popular leader of PMK. The president of the Vanniyar Sangam has demanded the Jai Bhim team tender an unconditional apology for damaging the reputation of the Vanniyar community. It has urged to place an apology within 24 hours. It has asked Suriya and the team to pay Rs 5 crore within seven days from the time and date of receipt of this notice for causing disrepute for the community.
Last week, PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, after finding a talking point over the controversy, has asked nine questions to actor Suriya and urged the latter to respond to them. In his letter, the PMK leader said that Jai Bhim has caused unrest among the Vanniyar community. Anbumani claimed that several people had told him that the movie has brought disrepute to the community and added that the actor's silence over the matter had forced him to write the letter.
Anbumani said, "Regardless of who is involved, when repression is unleashed on people it is not acceptable and we all fight together against it." Anbumani Ramadoss further penned that it has become the fashion of Tamil movies in recent times to degrade the Vanniyar community, which he claimed to be the major community in Tamil Nadu. Exactly a day after Anbumani's letter, Suriya had given a scathing reply to the PMK leader in which he affirmed that neither he nor his film unit had any intention of insulting any individual or community.
In his response, Suriya said that the crux of Jai Bhim is the legal struggle of former judge of the Madras High Court Justice Chandru against the injustice faced by a tribal woman, whose husband was brutally tortured and killed by the police in the police station. "We have also taken efforts to talk about the issues faced by indigenous people in their daily lives." Suriya has strongly negated Anbumani's claim that Jai Bhim had hurt a particular community.
With the affirmation that the movie team didn't have any intention to insult any individual or community at any point in time, Suriya said, "I hope you are aware that corrections were carried out as soon as people had pointed out mistakes." He ended his statement by adding, "I don't have to defame anyone for the sake of advertisement. Let's fight in our own paths for social equality and brotherhood."
However, despite the scenes being removed from the movie, the Vanniyar Sangam has now sent notice to Suriya and the makers, demanding an unconditional apology and Rs 5 crore within seven days for damaging the reputation. Ever since the news of Vanniyar Sangam's notice made headlines, the fans of actor Suriya and Jai Bhim have been expressing solidarity with the actor and trending the hashtag #WeStandWithSuriya on social media.