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Mari Selvaraj opens up on fighting oppression in Tamil cinema

Mari Selvaraj shared insights into the challenges he faces due to persistent opposition to his work, leading to self-censorship.

Mari Selvaraj opens up on fighting oppression in Tamil cinema

Filmmaker Mari Selvaraj. 

Last Updated: 06.16 PM, Nov 19, 2023


Filmmaker Mari Selvaraj is one of the important voices in contemporary Tamil cinema. However, it seems we haven't seen the full expression of his imagination and thought process in all his films so far. He claims that the unrelenting opposition to his work keeps his self-expression in check. 

"While writing a script, I am constantly censoring things myself. I am afraid to take a thought or an idea to its extreme point. Because I feel an invisible hand suppressing me," Mari revealed, during a recent roundtable discussion. 

He highlighted that even his toned-down versions of ideas repeatedly face many obstacles and undergo significant changes varying greatly from their original form. 


"When Karnan was submitted to censor, I was asked to remove the scene where there was an attack on the police station. In that scene, people are only armed with sticks. I pointed to them that there have been many movies where there were bombs hurled at the police stations. And a chief minister's convoy was attacked. So why can't this be allowed?" he recalled. 

He noted that it pains him to see when the extremely violent scenes sail through the censor board and receive rousing reception in cinemas.  

"They tried to change the story of Karnan. The film we saw was different. I had created a war within a metaphor and they asked me to change all names. They were bent on making sure that the story I wanted to say was not conveyed. In the climax, I changed many dialogues. If you look closely, the lip sync won't match," he noted. 

Mari expressed his frustration dealing with challenges from the censor board as he seemingly finds some issues beyond reasonable. He revealed that so many complaints were filed against him over the names used in his movies. He had to submit a slew of documents, including voter IDs and ration cards of his family members and the entire town to prove that names from mythological stories are common across communities. 

But, when he pressed as to why there were so many objections to his films for over non-issues, he received a shocking answer. "The complaint says these names could be used in other movies, but it should be used in a Mari Selvaraj film." 

Mari Selvaraj has so far directed three films, including Pariyerum Perumal, Karnan and Maamannan. His fourth directorial outing Vaazhai is now getting ready for release. 

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