Mumbai: ‘Baahubali’ actor Sathyaraj today expressed ‘wholehearted regret’ over his Cauvery dispute remarks, while appealing for the smooth release of the second part of the SS Rajamouli-directed film in Karnataka next week.
The actor, who plays the role of Kattappa in the movie, clarified that he was not against Kannada people.
This statement comes following the demands of an apology from Sathyaraj by pro-Kannada outfits, who had threatened to stall the release of the film in the state.
In a video released to the media, Sathyaraj read out a statement, saying he had made the remarks nine years ago at a protest held by the Tamil film industry against the ‘attack’ on Tamils in Karnataka over the Cauvery dispute.
"I had spoken something nine years ago at the meeting which has been viewed on Youtube. And since they feel hurt over some of the words spoken by me, I express my wholehearted regret to them (Kannada people) for those words," he said.
Sathyaraj said he did not want the hardwork of the film's team go to waste and appealed for allowing its release in Karnataka.
"I am a small actor in a mega film called 'Baahubali'. I don't want the efforts of many people to go to waste. Not just that, I have the added responsibility of ensuring exhibitors in Karnataka, who have bought (screening rights of) 'Baahubali 2', are not affected," he said in what he termed as an ‘explanation’ to Tamil people and activists.
An atheist, known for his pro-Tamil views, Sathyaraj insisted that he will continue to voice support for matters concerning Tamils including the Cauvery dispute and the 'Eelam' issue in Sri Lanka.
The actor, sporting a black T-shirt synonymous with the late E V Ramasamy Periyar, said he was not against Kannada people.
In a message to producers and filmmakers, he said those who fear 'problems' in the future by casting him in their films may not do so and avoid 'facing losses.'
"Because I take more pride in living and dying as a Tamil without any superstition than living and dying as an actor," he added.
He also extended his thanks to director Rajamouli, the film's producers, various professional bodies of Tamil cinema including an artiste's association and his well-wishers ‘for tolerating the difficulties caused by me.’
'Kannada Okoota', an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies, has announced 'Bengaluru Bandh' on April 28, the date of release of the film, to protest his remarks.
"The remarks made by Sathyaraj against Kannadigas during the Cauvery row (a few years ago) had crossed limits of decency. We will not allow the film to be released under any circumstances," Vatal Nagaraj, who heads Kannada Okoota, had said.