By M. C. Rajan in Chennai
A BIG- TICKET Tamil movie about Bodhi Dharma, a Buddhist monk who went to China on an evangelical mission, has stirred up a hornet’s nest and many outfits have taken up the cudgels against the film’s narrative. The fact that many politically- connected people are involved in the project has added to the frayed nerves.
7am Arivu , the latest Surya starrer, is the Tamil debut for Shruti Hassan, daughter of versatile actor Kamal Hassan. For the second time, after the box office hit Ghajini, Surya is working with filmmaker A. R. Murugadoss. Adding to the might of the Surya- Murugadoss combo is producer M. K. Udayanidhi Stalin, who is the grandson of DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi.
But the problem is that almost all groups — including the saffron brigade, rationalists and dalits — are enraged over the celluloid treatment of Bodhi Dharma, said to be the founder of Zen Buddhism.
Certain parts extolling the virtues of Tamils being guillotined in the prints released in neighbouring Sri Lanka has compounded the problem.
The film narrates the story of a Pallava princeturned- monk, who leaves Kancheepuram for the distant China on his mother’s orders.
There, he helps the natives overcome an epidemic and teaches them martial arts.
But when he wants to leave, the locals decide to poison him to death. He accepts the poison without hesitation and without revealing that he was aware of their plans.
Centuries later, a researcher ( Shruti) engaged in the search for Bodhi Dharma’s bloodline discovers Surya to be of the ancient monk’s “ debunking” Buddhism.
The Hindu Makkal Katchi, a saffron outfit, has threatened to stage protests against the director and the producer for agreeing to the Sri Lankan demand to snip away the portions highlighting the virtues of Tamils. “ This is nothing but double standards… it needs to be condemned,” HMK leader Kannan said.
But unmoved by the controversy, Aamir Khan is said to be interested in remaking 7am Arivu in Hindi. No wonder, since he had had a blockbuster in Ghajini earlier.