Karu Palaniappan, director of films like Parthiban Kanavu and Sivappathigaram, criticised the media for their biased news coverage of Kabali. In an interview with a Tamil news channel, Karu Palaniappan said, “If Rajinikanth hadn’t acted in this film, no one would have backed this project. You wouldn’t have given it this much attention.”
Kabali deals with the oppression of Tamil people in Malaysia. In the days leading up to its 22 August release, the film was feted by the media the world over. However, after it released it took a beating on social media, with many criticising its director Pa Ranjith for making Rajinikanth act in a ‘Dalit’ movie.
Karu Palaniappan was asked to comment on this response to the film in the show. “See, in my view, Attakathi was the greatest political film ever made. You (media) never did anything to bring it into the spotlight. Kabali is not in the same league. You guys are making so much out of it because Rajinikanth is in it.”
“There’s no such thing as political films in Cinema. Art itself is politics. Cinema is facilitated by politics,” Kabali director Ranjith had said in a recent interview.
When asked about this in the show, Karu Palaniappan said that there are two types of politics in films. “One is where the director knows that the messages in his films are politically driven. The other is where the director, and/or its cast is unaware of the message in the film. For instance in Pattiyal, Bharath and Arya act as paid killers. They are from the poorest section of society, and don’t have normal human tendencies. They kill just one person in the film. So the title Pattiyal doesn’t refer to the list of people they’ve killed. It refers instead to the community they belong to. Scheduled Castes and Schedule tribes – they are Pattiyalitta Samoogam. When I spoke to director Vishnu Vardhan about this, he was completely clueless.”
Pa Ranjith though, is aware that art is politics, says Palaniappan. “Pa Ranjith and his ilk have many difficulties with society and the world at large. But they are not able to convey that in their films. He wants to say that the oppressed people must join together if they want to improve their station in life. But he wasn’t able to say that. Ranjith says Tamilians must stand together, he doesn’t say dalits must all stand together.”
Karu Palaniappan also questioned the CBFC’s decision to award Kabali with an U certificate. “78 people are killed in Kabali. A hand is severed and sent to the Kosong Kosong group as a warning. Yet, this film has been given a U. Metro, on the other hand, which dealt with chain snatching got an A. Its director Anand said that they would be able to manage. They were a small film, and could deal with the entertainment tax. But not so with films like Kabali. This is evidence of politics, no?