It is not a new phenomenon when titles of Tamil films run into problems. Before their release, issues are invariably raised by political parties, fringe groups or just moral police from among the public. Several films have faced hitches, including Kamal Haasan’s Sandiyar and Thevar Magan, Jayam Ravi’s Aadhi Bhagwan and Rajini’s Kaala.
The latest film being dragged into controversy is Vijay Sethupathi’s 25th film Seethakathi, scheduled for December 20 release. VSP will be seen playing a septuagenarian in Seethakathi, a movie about a super star theatre artiste by the name of Seethakathi, who is addressed by all reverently as 'Ayya'.
The Indian National League party has protested against the title of the film. In a statement released by Abdhul Rahim, the district head of INL, they said, “Seethakathi was a great scholar, patron of Tamil poets and a great philanthropist who lived around 1650 in Keezhakarai. Although he was a Muslim by birth, his original name being Sheik Abdul Kader, his humanitarian deeds made him a role model for all.
He was also a well-known trader whose name and fame spread far and wide. He supported one of the poets of his time, Umaru Pulavar who was the author of the monumental work Seera Puranam on the life history of Prophet Muhammad in Tamil.
We hear Seethakathi is not an art film but a fun filled entertainer. And in a television interview, Vijay Sethupathi himself said this. “We cannot admit to a film being made in the name of the scholar as it might spoil his reputation. Hence, we condemn strongly and request the makers of Seethakathi to change the title, failing which we would take appropriate lega action as well as protest democratically.”At a recent press meet, the team of Seethakathi honoured 17 stage actors who were also part of the film. Vijay Sethupathi played the prefect host and introduced each of them, one of whom was 87 years old and the inspiration for the actor'scharacter, Ayya Aadhimoolam in the film.
Speaking at the event, Balaji Tharaneetharan, who wrote the script besides directing the film, said, “Initially, I didn’t have Vijay Sethupathi in mind. But after years, when I wanted to approach him again, I was a little doubtful whether he would agree to play the role. But he immediately accepted and this project was possible only because of him. In fact, it wasn’t just about his acting, but he gave lots of inputs that have given good results.”
Vijay Sethupathi said, “After wearing the makeover of Ayya, I had imagined a lot on how to perceive the role. But I needed someone for a perfect inspiration and it was one of the theatre personalities ‘Ooty’ Mani Anna who helped me. I request everyone to audition theatre artistes like him and use them in films as we are lacking proficient performers.”
He added, “This is my 25th film and it was something out of a dream. I never imagined Seethakathi would be my 25th film. The film was possible because of producers at Passion Studios. Anything in the world cannot be pushed by an individual, but universe helps it and am so emotionally happy that everyone has been a part of my journey.”...