Tamil superstar Rajnikanth is facing a lot of flak following his aggressive stand on the Hogenakkal water issue.
The actor had made a strong speech where he slammed Karnataka over the Hogenakkal water row, at a protest rally organised on April 4.
Rajnikanth had said, 'Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have had a clear agreement made over their borders surrounding Hogenakkal 50 years ago. And when we plan to take water that is on our side and someone raises an objection, should not they be kicked?'
Taking umbrage at the statement, Karnataka has reacted by banning his films in the state.
Feeling the heat, Rajnikanth had clarified that he did not say anything derogatory against the Kannadigas and maintained that whatever he said was against those who indulged in disturbing the harmony between Kanndigas and Tamilians.
He also said that he was ready to apologise if seniors artistes like Parvathamma Rajakumar, Ambarish, Dr.Vishnuvardhana and Girish Karnad asked him to.
However, the pro-Kannada groups insisted that the actor should apologise to all the Kannadigas.
Terming Rajnikanth's clarification as unacceptable, Narayana Gowda, President of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, a pro-Kannada group said that the actor will not be allowed to enter the Karnataka soil until he apologises.
"We will not allow the screening of Rajnikanth films in Karnataka if he does not apologise for his intemperate language. We will also see that Rajnikanth's films will not be allowed to be shot on Karnataka soil," Praveen Shetty, another Kannada activist said.
Prof Chandrashekhara Patil, President of the Kannada Sahithya Parishath said, "Rajnikanth may be a big actor in the country, but he has no business to insult Kannadigas who are fighting to protect their interests. I can understand Rajnikanth's support to the Tamil cause because he became a big star there. But how can he say such harsh words against the pro- Kannada activists and call them poisonous elements? I don't think there is any other alternative for Rajnikanth but to tender an apology."
Actor-turned politician Mukyamanthri Chandru, who is seen more often in pro-Kannada agitations these days, was of the opinion that Rajni was trying to wriggle out of a web of problems he had created for himself.
"There were provocative speeches made by several Tamil artists that day. There were some saner voices too. But what has pained us is that Rajni, who has his roots in Karnataka, made such a provocative speech and spoke against pro-Kannada agitators. There were more instances of the burning of buses in Tamil Nadu than in Karnataka. Hotels belonging to Kannadigas were attacked there. Rajni has angered us by his speech and he has to apologise," Chandru maintained.
"Rajni will grow only in stature if he apologises," National award winning actress Tara added.
But there were some voices who felt that the whole issue should end now. Top Kannada and Tamil film producer Rockline Venkatesh said, "Rajni sir spoke harshly against all those indulging in violence, whether they are from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka. He has spoken against the hardcore Tamil activists also."
Harsha, the President of Rajnikanth Fans Association was of the opinion that he had opened his heart with the statement and that should be enough to sooth any hurt feelings. "If Rajni sir has to tender an apology even after the statement, I think it is better if he apologises at the earliest. After that everything will be under control. Here Rajni films are seen not only by Tamilians, but a large section of Kannadigas too."
Senior actor, producer and director Dwarakish who made films like Aduththa Varisu in Tamil and Gangwa' in Hindi with Rajnikanth said that it would be better for Rajni to say sorry to the people of Karnataka.
"Rajni was born and brought up here and he belongs to Karnataka and we are proud of that. We feel Rajni should apologise."