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Baahubali 2 ban in Karnataka: This Sathyaraj speech started controversy, gets 8 days to apologise

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 21-04-2017
Baahubali 2 pre-release event

SS Rajmouli's Baahubali 2 release is facing a threat in Karnataka due to a remark made by actor Sathyaraj nine years ago over Cauvery River row between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The video where Sathyaraj made the alleged anti-Kannada comments in the context of the Cauvery river water dispute surfaced about a week ago and went viral. Earlier, Rajinikanth's speech from the same event had landed him in trouble. It is only recently that Sathyaraj aka Baahubali's Kattappa's utterance started generating interest. Now, with just a week left before Baahubali 2's release, Kannada outfits have called for a ‘Bengaluru Bandh’ on April 28, the date of the release of the much-anticipated film. They will only call off their protest if Sathyaraj says sorry. Despite director SS Rajamouli trying to distance himself and his Baahubali 2 team from the comments, the protesters have refused to back down.

What did Sathyaraj say in his speech?

Sathyaraj, who is from Tamil Nadu, attended a meeting in solidarity with Tamil farmers in 2008 who were seeking water from Karnataka. The actor urged Tamils to stand up for their rights and not be passive like a tree every dog would urinate on, according to a report in The Telegraph. Pro-Kannada activists expressed their anger at the 'dog' remark which they decided was a reference to Karnataka residents for opposing the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu. He had reportedly called Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj “a comedy character.”

What did SS Rajamouli say?

Director SS Rajamouli in a video appealed Kannada protesters to consider the hard work done by the entire team. He also said that a ban on release will not cause a loss to Sathyaraj. SS Rajamouli said in the apology, “I’m not fluent in Kannada, please forgive me if I speak something wrong. The Baahubali team and I wanted to issue a clarification about the Sathyaraj controversy. A few years back Sathyaraj had made some comments, which have hurt your sentiments. But, we are no way connected to his comments. It is his personal opinion. We were not aware of this issue until a month ago till we saw a video on social media. He made this comments 9 years ago. After that many of his films were released in Karnataka, including Baahubali part 1. We request you to give the same support for Baahubali 2. He is neither the director nor the producer of this film. He is one of the many supporting actors in the film. If you stop this film, he is not going to face any loss. We think it is not right to punish so many people for one person’s comments and turn the anger on an individual towards Baahubali 2. We have explained the situation to Stayaraj over the phone. And we can’t do anything more than that. I implore you not to involve us in this issue as we are no way connected to it.”

Baahubali 2 producer Shobu Yarlagadda earlier said, "This is a very sensitive issue, and I don't want to comment much on it. The only thing I want to say is - we will resolve the issue amicably in the interest of all concerned." Sathyaraj is yet to comment on the issue.

What Kannada groups are saying?

"...We are not against the film or Rajamouli. Until Sathyaraj tenders an unconditional apology, our protest will continue," said Vatal Nagaraj, who heads 'Kannada Okoota', an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies said, as reported by PTI, " There will be a Bengaluru bandh on April 28 and also there will be protests across the state. We can't accept anything else other than an apology by Sathyaraj."

President of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and president of the Dr Rajkumar Fans Association, Sa Ra Govindu, said that Kannada Okkoota wants an unconditional apology from Sathyaraj if Baahubali 2 is to be screened in the state. “We don’t have any issue with Baahubali or Rajamouli. We respect him as he is a hardworking and creative person. We don’t want his clarification or apology. We want Sathyaraj’s apology. We won’t allow the release of the movie until he does so,” Govindu said.

This is not the first time when a film was stalled in Karnataka after an actor made comments on water dispute. Rajinikanth's Tamil film Kuselan was also facing similar threats in 2008 and it was released only after the actor apologised for opposing Karnataka's stand on water row.

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