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It's Just a Movie: Madras HC Rejects PIL Against Censor Nod to 'Mersal'

A screenshot of Vijay in the teaser of Mersal.

A screenshot of Vijay in the teaser of Mersal.

The Madras High Court has rejected a PIL that sought withdrawal of censor certificate to Vijay-starrer Mersal.

Chennai: The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking the withdrawal of censor certificate to Vijay-starrer Tamil movie Mersal which has been mired in a series of controversies, the latest being the BJP’s objections to anti-GST scenes in the film.

“It’s just a movie. It’s not real,” the High Court said, dismissing the plea filed by advocate A Ashvathaman.

In his PIL, Ashvathaman had alleged that Mersal was filled with "wrong propaganda about India and fake dialogues and scenes which obviously leads to a misconception about the new taxation system of India and the Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 to the viewers."

"No picture shall be certified for public exhibition which will lower the moral standards of those who see it and the prevailing laws shall not be so ridiculed as to create sympathy for violation of such laws," he had said.

The president of BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit Tamilisai Soundararajan had demanded that producers weed out the controversial scenes from the film. "I object to certain scenes in Vijay's movie 'Mersal'. Certain scenes project GST and Digital India in a bad light and we want these scenes removed. Vijay has political ambitions and that is the reason why these scenes are there in the movie," she added.

In response to the BJP's demand to remove what it calls "untruths" about GST and Digital India, actor Vijay's father SA Chandrashekar had also questioned BJP’s opposition to the scenes when the censor board had cleared the film.

Superstar Kamal Haasan, who is himself flirting with the idea of joining politics, came out in support of the film, saying those opposed to the film must “counter criticism with a logical response”.

Actor Vijay, in a statement, recently, thanked fans and supporters for standing by him. "There was also some opposition to 'Mersal', which is a hit. As a response to that, my friends from the film world ie actors and actresses, directors, bodies like SIAA (South Indian Artistes Association) and TFPC (Tamil Film Producers Council) and popular leaders at national level, state political leaders and political representatives extended big support to me and the 'Mersal' crew," he said in the statement.

The film has shattered records at the box office, reportedly making over Rs 150 crore in its opening week.

Mersal had been facing problems even before its release.

The Animal Welfare Board had raised objections after learning that the film crew used animals during the shoot without permission. The production team then secured a No-Objection Certificate from the Board.

Earlier, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order restraining the movie’s director from using the title Mersal as another group filed a case saying they had already registered the title with the Tamil Film Producers Council in 2015. The case was finally settled in the first week of October.

The film’s release was then stalled due to the deadlock between the producers’ bodies and the state government over the levy of a local entertainment tax in addition to the GST. The movie hit the screens after the AIADMK government lowered the state tax from 10% to 8%.