'Keeping quiet is not an option for me. It should not be an option for anyone.'
'If you have a voice, you must use it.'
Tamil actor Vishal Krishna speaks out.
Tamil actor Vishal Krishna has been in the news recently for speaking out against BJP leader H Raja for watching the Tamil film Mersal 'online.' He said it was 'totally insensitive' of the minister as it sets a wrong example.
The Vijay-starrer has been in the news for taking on the BJP through a dialogue in the climax regarding GST, which the political party wanted deleted.
Vishal's production office was later raided by the Income Tax department, and there have been a lot of theories about its timing.
Vishal speaks to Subhash K Jha about why he stood up for Mersal, as well as his upcoming film, Villain, where he tackles another issue.
Your firm stand against the move to delete the GST reference in the Vijay-starrer Mersal has put you in the spotlight.
In the spotlight or in a spot? (Laughs) No, but seriously, more people with a voice, and that includes film personalities, need to speak out against government policies that don't work.
Checks and balances are important for every individual and organisation. There has to be accountability.
We elect our government representatives for five years, that's the problem. They are free to do what they want for five years.
That's where someone like me comes in. We have to speak up.
Do you think the raid on your office was the price you paid for speaking up?
Maybe we should give them the benefit of doubt.
Maybe the raid was just a routine action taken by the IT (Income Tax) department and not related to my stance on Mersal.
However, if this is what happens for speaking out, then I should prepare myself for further attacks because, this weekend, in the new Mohanlal-starrer Villain, I've addressed the meat issue.
So you expect trouble from the gau rakshaks?
(laughs) It is possible and I am prepared for it.
Villain is my first film in Malayalam.
I wanted to play a grey character for a long time.
So the hero of the moment is going to be the villain?
(laughs) I don't quite see what is so heroic about standing up for what is right. We all need to do that.
I've been questioning government policies regularly.
By now, my family and friends know I can't be silenced on matters that affect society and healthcare in our country, which Vijay has spoken about in Mersal. It is an issue that should worry all of us.
The poor get no medical treatment and why just the poor? Even the rich and the privileged suffer due to medical negligence.
I lost my best friend to cancer due to a wrong diagnosis.
Did you speak out against the attempt to silence anti-government dialogues in Mersal because of your friendship with Vijay?
No, it is something I'd have done for any of my colleagues.
Yes, Vijay is a friend. We went to college together. But that is not the point.
The point is, why act censorious when the CBFC has already passed the film and the portions you are now objecting to?
To compound the absurdity, we had a politician from the BJP proudly proclaiming he saw Mersal online. Apparently, he didn't know piracy is illegal or maybe he didn't care.
We can't afford to have politicians setting such deplorable examples for the public.
Do you feel Vijay was right in talking about it?
Why only Vijay or me? We all need to address the problems that plague our society.
It's not about just one state in India or one art form -- cinema.
Voices need to be heard from every section of society.
Why is it that when a politician suffers a little anxiety palpitation, he is rushed to a five-star medical centre while the poor die on the streets?
When an actor speaks against socio-political inequity, he is immediately trolled. Remember what happened to Aamir Khan when he spoke about his anxieties concerning his children?
Yes. But keeping quiet is not an option for me.
It should not be an option for an actor, for anyone.
It won't do for an actor to say, 'I've done my job on the screen. What happens outside is not my problem.'
If you have a voice, you must use it.
Vijay has been addressing socio-political issues regularly in his cinema.
What happens when you get targeted after speaking out ?
You face it.
You face the backlash and the vendetta and the trolling.
You have to speak out or there will be no accountability.
To take an example, what happened to the Rs 570 crore that was seized in a bag in Tirupur?
Where did it go?
Where does the taxpayers' money go?
Speaking of tax, did the IT raid cause you any problems?
No. They said it was a TDS problem.
Luckily, my papers are in order.
So, to those who want to silence me, all I can say is bring it on.