Director Pa Ranjith on Wednesday moved the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case registered against him for his "controversial" speech about Rajaraja Cholan. The court is likely to take up the petition shortly.
Ranjith, who has delivered back-to-back hits like Kabali and Kaala starring Rajinikanth, was slapped with charges of promoting enmity between groups. Rajaraja I was a Cholan emperor from present day south India who ruled over the Cholan kingdom of medieval Tamil Nadu, parts of northern India, two thirds of Sri Lankan territory, Maldives and parts of East Asia, between 985 and 1014 CE.
In a caustic remark against the king, Ranjith allegedly said it was during the era of the famed Cholan rule that lands of the oppressed communities were systemically appropriated and that there was a race currently going on among castes in Tamil Nadu to claim the legacy of Cholan.
The application, filed by Ranjith, states "I addressed the speech only for the purpose of creating awareness about the possession of land, further I quoted the same from the historical books."
"Apart from that, so many persons were speaking about the same issue on various previous occasions, but my speech alone was wrongly spreading among the social media." (sic)
In the application, Ranjith also mentioned that he "don't have any intention to commit an offence, my speech would not attract any negative action in the society, at the same time it will create the necessity of having possession of land."
Ranjith made the comments while delivering a speech at Thirupanandal in Thanjavur district on June 5. Following a complaint by Hindu Makkal Katchi, a case has been registered. Police sources said, "In this regard, we have registered a case against the director under Ps Cr.No.105/19 U/S 153,153(A),(1),(a) IPC."
The director, couldn't be reached for comment.
Ranjith is a dalit activist and through his films, he has openly highlighted the troubles of those living on the economic societal fringes. Kabali was about the life of Malaysian Tamils oppressed by Chinese hegemonic forces. Kaala talked about how land was an instrument to power in Dharavi. His film Pariyerum Perumal speaks of the casteist society we live in, showing a young Dalit law student being humiliated for his caste identity and his friendship with a savarna woman.
Ranjith has frequently raised his voice against real life caste atrocities. Last year, in an interview with News Minute, Ranjith said that he wants to make films on forgotten heroes, narrate stories that don't catch the eye of the mainstream. His Bollywood film is going to be on tribal leader Birsa Munda who fought the British in pre-Independence India.
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