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Actor Vishal Slams BJP's H Raja for 'Watching' Mersal Online

A still of actor Vijay from Mersal.

A still of actor Vijay from Mersal.

"Dear Mr H Raja, as a leader and prominent personality, you are advocating piracy and blatantly agreeing to it," Vishal said in a statement.

Chennai: The controversy over Vijay-starrer "Mersal" refused to die down today, with actor Vishal accusing BJP leader H Raja of advocating piracy by watching the movie online, a charge rejected by latter.

Earlier in the day, referring to Raja's remarks, reported in a section of the media, Vishal, head of the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) and general secretary of the South Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA), had also demanded an apology from him.

However, Raja clarified that he had only watched clips of the movie on his mobile phone and said he did not have the patience to sit through a two-and-a-half hour film.

"Dear Mr H Raja, as a leader and prominent personality, you are advocating piracy and blatantly agreeing to it," Vishal said in a statement.

The actor also said he wondered "how a political leader like you could watch a pirated version of a film (online)" and added that it "sets a bad example".

This was "totally insensitive and uncalled for," said Vishal, who is known for his strong anti-piracy stand and activities.

Demanding an apology from Raja on the matter, Vishal also pressed the government to enact more stringent anti-piracy laws.

Raja, however, categorically denied having watched the movie, especially online as it was being made out. "I had not watched the movie. I only watched the clips received on my phone," he told PTI.

Piracy is one of the major issues being faced by the multi-crore Tamil cinema industry, with films being uploaded on certain websites soon after their release.

The availability of pirated CDs and DVDs of new films is also an issue.

Actor Vijay's fans have been reportedly circulating the contentious scenes, allegedly mocking the central government's Goods and Services Tax (GST), through mobile phones.

"I don't have the patience to watch a two-and-a-half hour movie. This entire episode shows that whoever opposes the BJP are supporting Vijay, and this is expected," Raja said.

Diwali release "Mersal" has kicked up a row with the BJP taking exception to references on GST in the movie.

BJP leaders, including Raja, a national secretary in the party, state president Tamilisai Soundarajan and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, have been demanding that the "incorrect" references be deleted from the big-budget flick.

However, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, his senior colleague P Chidambaram, DMK working president M K Stalin, veteran star Kamal Haasan and a host of Tamil cinema industry representatives had supported the film crew on the issue.

In Puducherry, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy came to the defence of the film, saying questions have been "justifiably" raised on the GST and the Digital India initiatives in the movie and there could be no objection to expression of one's views in a democratic set up.

"I am a member of the GST council and I have expressed my strong criticism of the abnormal levy of GST on medicines and on hotels at the council meeting," he told reporters.

"Will those unable to tolerate criticisms made by actor Vijay in the movie against the GST seek action against me as well for objecting to the abnormal levy of taxes at the council meeting?" the Chief Minister asked.

Stating that movies, television and newspapers had every right to express views and criticise policies and decisions of authorities, he claimed that there was no political motive, whatsoever, in the movie's dialogues.

"Let not BJP leaders labour under the mistake that they should always be lauded for anything and everything of the NDA regime even if the decisions of the Centre are injurious to the people," Narayanasamy said.

The BJP had on October 20 objected to what it termed as "untruths" regarding the GST in just-released "Mersal", and wanted dialogues on the central taxation to be deleted.

first published:October 23, 2017, 13:06 IST