After Kamal Haasan's Sandiyar (Kamal, Napoleon, Pasupathy, Abhirami), another Tamil film, K P Jagan's Geetai (Vijay, Meera Jasmine, Amisha Patel), is in trouble.
Once again, the contentious issue is the film's title.
If it was a politician (Dr S Krishnaswamy of the Puthiya Thamizhagam) who objected to Sandiyar (which means rogue), it is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Munnani that are objecting to Geetai. The Bhagvad Gita is known as Geetai in Tamil.
When the activists protested against what they called frivolous use of a revered name, the filmmakers changed the title to Puthiya Geetai (The New Gita). They did not want to change the title completely, since the film had already been publicised.
But Hindu Munnani leader Rama Gopalan said angrily, "I want the name changed. Using Geetai is sacrilegious. This film does not explain the tenets of the Bhagvad Gita. It is a sexy, commercial film. My question is, will these people dare title a commercial film The New Bible or The New Koran? It is only because Hindus are tolerant that people do these things! The name Puthiya Geetai is a fraud. It is as if the old one is not good and they are creating a new one. It is like marketing 'New improved Surf' [washing powder] instead of the old Surf!"
He rejected the producer's offer to watch the film because he does not 'like watching trash'.
Asked what he would do now that the film has been released, he claimed a friend had filed a suit against the filmmakers. "We have raised our objections and hope our complaint will be addressed. We do not want to resort to violent methods. We have also appealed to the government to stop such films from being screened."
He is also angry with the Central Board for Film Certification for allowing the use of such titles.
State VHP vice-president S Vedantam also vented his anger against the filmmakers. "Why should they use the title Geetai when there are so many titles available?" he said. "Gita is a very scared name for Hindus. Why do they want to use it for a commercial film with a lot of vulgarity?"
Vedantam said the filmmakers did not respond positively to the VHP's protest. He threatened, "Our volunteers will do whatever they feel like doing now. We will not be able to control them; their sentiments are hurt. I cannot say in what way they will react."
Vijay's last few films have failed miserably at the box office; Geetai is expected to give him a new lease of life.
It remains to be seen whether the controversy will help the film in any way. But the very fact that it is still being screened in theatres is an indication that the VHP and Hindu Munnani do not have a strong hold in Tamil Nadu.