With You Without You

Stopping of the Movie – ‘With You, Without You’

withyouEarlier this month, many Tamil and Muslims organisations rightly staged protest against the atrocities by the extreme right wing, Sinhalese Buddhist organization – ‘Bodu Bala Sena’. However, some of the extremist, sectarian elements with support from the main parties in TN have now gone to the extent of stopping or trying to delay the screening of a Sinhalese movie – ‘With you, Without You’ (oba nathuwa oba ekka).

A movie on the postwar Sri Lanka and described by some reviews as a very sensitively portrayed film without taking sides on the conflict. The director – Prasanna Vithanage, an internationally famed director and in fact a supporter of Trotskyist/ Socialist ideas, has often been found at the receiving end of Sinhala chauvinism and even faced ban on some of his movies earlier in Sri Lanka. The ruling AIADMK Chief Minister Jayalalitha has not even responded to pleas to intervene on the issue.

Another movie, praised by film critics, that suffered the same fate was “Inam” by ace Indian cinematographer Santosh Sivan earlier this year. Many political parties, including Vaiko’s MDMK called for the ban on the movie. There are other such examples like Madras Cafe, Dam 999 that couldn’t get released in TN because of the protest from some sectarian Tamil organisations.

Despite all the talk of the fate of Tamils in Sri Lanka, the ruling dispensation in Tamil Nadu has done precious little for the Tamil refugees holed up in TN. If one looks into the last year Tamil Nadu budget report, it has allocated just 100 crores for 65,000 refugees. It is less than a big-budget movie getting released in these days. There are news about refugees going on fast for not providing basic amenities. Government ironically is supporting these protests in order to cover their inefficiencies in allocating funds or even allowing them to live as free citizens.

It is also worth noting that according to Deloitte report, the market size of the South Indian Media and Print industry is about 23,900 crores in 2013 and it is growing. Tamil and Telugu Media & Print constitutes nearly 65% of the market share. Tamil movie industry’s market size is about Rs. 1030 crores. Market and political interference decides what type of movies are made. So it is hardly surprising that only a handful of movies depicting realistic social/ political issues actually make it. It is really a tragedy that ordinary Tamil cinema goers will never get to see such rare movies like ‘With you, Without You’, and judge it for themselves rather than by some sectarian organizations, including the ruling parties that just exploit genuine concerns and emotions of the Tamil people.

Chennai

  • AKR

    Below are my disagreements with the article
    1.
    There was a news that the screening of the movie was opposed.. But when
    inquired about which tamil organisation opposed neither the maker of
    the movie nor the screening theatre had a reply for that and they
    pointed their fingures to unidentified phone calls. No tamil
    organisation infact did any demonstraton against this movie like they
    did for Dam 999 or Madra Cafe or Inam.
    2.Infact there was a
    healthy debate that happened during the screening about various points
    and issues. There are no references to such a debate in this article
    3.
    The author in his conclusion has made a comment “Market and political
    interference decides what type of movies are made. So it is hardly
    surprising that only a handful of movies depicting realistic social/
    political issues actually make it. It is really a tragedy that ordinary
    Tamil cinema goers will never get to see such rare movies like ‘With
    you, Without You’. He is bound to explain politically why he subscribes
    to this view rather than passing a judgement on the fly. The credentials
    of the director as “an internationally famed director and in fact a
    supporter of Trotskyist/ Socialist ideas” is not enough to substantiate
    the claim.
    4. The author raises the issue of refugees from Eelam a
    genuine issue. But its relevance to the context of with you without you
    movie

  • SB

    It would be better if the author can explain what do he mean by “sectarian Tamil organisations” ?

  • Dear New Socialist….
    I am yet to see this much discussed film of Prasanna Vithanage… But what the author of this article is saying is partially true. Though any one in the film industry sweepingly agrees to the fact that film makers and film goers are market driven, there will and is a minority group of film makers who have tried to swim against the tide. Because of the sustained effort of this group, we in India have at least 2% of films which are based on the contemporary social and political issues. In spite of the pressures from market these films are being watched by the audience in parallel screening methods. So, making a sweeping statement based on market reports is and will always be considered as disrespect shown to the parallel film makers. “Puttakkana Highway” a film on displaced poor farmers by the highway has been screened in more than. 300 centres in the state of Karnataka. The film made in 2011 in a budget of less than a crore has till now has more than 150% profit by the parallel screening methods. This way each film maker is independent enough to say what he wishes to state.I as an independent film maker request the author to understand the fighting spirit of all of us and make necessary correction to his statement.
    But off late, with the surge of the extreme right wing… mobs have tried to control anything against them. It is an issue which all of us are bothered about. In spite of a Censor certificate from CBFC few militant minds have tried to stop films like Vishwaroopam and Madras cafe unnecessarily. This is an issue that in the coming days can disturb the independent film making.
    This extreme right wing mentality is trying to control all the art forms and even education. Probably, we should all fight against this continuously.
    B. Suresha
    Film Maker, Actor, Produces, Theatre Personality and  Play Write living in Bangalore, Karnataka

  • AKR

    Hi suresha,

    The politics which Both vishwaroopam and Madras cafe stood for and portrayed are very dangerous and capable of poisoning the minds of the young apolitical minds.. To list them as “independent films”, by which i understand that without any prejudice is very unfortunate.