Filmmaker Vetrimaaran has expressed his displeasure about Netflix's move to ban Nayanthara's Annapoorani owing to external pressure.
Filmmaker Vetrimaaran strongly criticized Netflix for banning the recent Tamil film Annapoorani, starring Nayanthara in the lead role. He argued that the streaming platform exceeded its authority by censoring a piece of art that had received approval from India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for public exhibition.
In a statement, he expressed his displeasure about the recent turn of events and raised concern about the shrinking space for artistic expression. "There is no such artistic freedom in India that escapes censorship. This also applies to the OTT platforms. A film that was approved by the CBFC has been taken down from the OTT platform owing to external pressures and this does not bode well for the film industry," said Vetrimaaran.
Vetrimaaran, who is known for making politically relevant films, have been vocal about the prevailing strong censorship practice in the country that is already preventing filmmakers from telling certain stories. He worried that OTT platforms succumbing to such external pressures would further discourage filmmakers from exploring contentious themes in their work.
"It is within the prerogative of the CBFC to determine the suitability of a film for public screening. The OTT's action undermines the powers of the CBFC," he added.
Last week, Annapoorani was removed from Netflix following an online protest against the film by a section of the audience. Some took offence to a scene in the film, which suggested that Lord Rama was a meat eater. The scene in question also cites a quotation from Valmiki's Ramayana to support this claim.
And this scene did not sit well with a section of audiences with many running social media campaigns and calling boycotts against Netflix.
Annapoorani is written and directed by debut director Nilesh Krishnaa, who was a former assistant of director Shankar. The film first came out on December 1 last year in Tamil and received mixed reactions. It also failed to resonate with a wider audience and subsequently failed to make a dent at the box office.
However, Annapoorani started making headlines nationally when a section of audiences in the Hindi-speaking states discovered the movie on Netflix. And the issue gained a lot of traction in view of the upcoming inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Amid the protests and the political pressures, the producers, Zee Studios, issued an apology and directed the streaming platform to remove the film. The producers revealed their plans to put the movie back on the OTT once they edited out all the controversial parts.