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Friday, January 1, 2021

animals in tinseldom ~ AWBI issues showcause notice to 'Eeswaran' !

In Victorian era Britain, Dr. John Dolittle is a Welsh veterinarian with the ability to communicate with animals. After his wife, Lily, dies at sea, Dolittle retreats from human society and only tends to animals. A boy, Tommy Stubbins, accidentally wounds Kevin the squirrel and is guided to Dolittle's help by Polynesia, a macaw. Queen Victoria summons Dolittle to cure her of a deadly sickness. He refuses until Poly persuades him that he must begin to reconnect with fellow humans.  .. … .. ..   Dolittle (also referred to as The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle) is a 2020 American fantasy adventure film directed by Stephen Gaghan, based on a story by Thomas Shepherd.  

When we were studying in School, came Sripriya, Sivakumar starrer “Aattukara Alamelu”  directed by R. Thyagarajan.  Being a movie produced by Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar for Dhandayudhapani Films, the goat had a great role in the film. The film was remade in Telugu as Pottelu Punnamma and in Hindi as Mera Rakshak.

In earlier days, Elephants and Bulls were featured repeatedly in Tamil films as the story be it mythological or village themes, mingled with life of animals.  Slowly mythological films faded, more specifically Animal Welfare movement came into fore doing propaganda on the perceived ill-treatment to animals in movies.  The film industry spoofed this concern. Now one would see statutory disclaimer – ‘no animals were used in film shooting or were harmed’.   In Kamal / Simran starrer ‘Pammal  Sambandham’ -  a group of women activists, led by the heroine would barge into the studio holding placards shouting that animals are tortured.  Kamal would be shown seated on a platform not directly touching the bull ~ there would be a couple of similar other scenes too.  Animal welfare has strangled so much that one can notice that recent films have a disclaimer that animals were not used / tortured and in mega Bahubali, the bull taming scene was a graphic affair. 

Elephants have been sought after in tinseldom. In  ‘Nalla Neram’, a MGR starrer  released in 1972, the storyline was around choice between love (his wife) and friendship (his loyal and devoted pet elephants). .. .. one of those elephants was Rathi, who lived a long live till 77.    She had shared tinseldom with MGR, Rajnikanth and Rajesh Khanna.  Rathi starred alongside MGR and Chief minister Jayalalithaa in 1971 released film - Neerum Nerupum, directed by P Neelakandan.   After a 6 year hiatus, Rathi starred in Rajnikant’s  ‘Annai Oru Alayam’ where Sripriya was the heroine.

The man who had made animals act so well was well respected in the cine circuit. He had risen from a much smaller level, playing small roles in films that were shot in Central Studios, Coimbatore, until he was roped in by Jupiter Pictures for villain role in the 1947 movie Rajakumari with then-a-relatively unknown lead actor M. G. Ramachandran with whom he formed a deep friendship. In the film Mohini (1948) there was a scene taken in forest, where MGR  rushes to rescue a family travelling in a bullock-cart from being robbed by a gang and the main robbers role was played by this man, as the main robber .. .. .. who ended up making films providing greater role for animals .. .. the man Chinnappa Devar.

Now read this interesting article in Indian Express .. .. the  Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued a show-cause notice to Madhav Media, a Tamil film production house, for using a computer generated snake (look-a-like of Indian cobra) without permission in the movie trailer and poster of "Eeswaran" starring Silambarasan, popularly known as Simbu. The notice was issued on November 16 by AWBI secretary SK Dutta and a copy has been forwarded to the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification.

The notice says, "It is brought to the knowledge of the Board that Eeswaran, a Tamil movie, has recently released its trailer and poster in which a computer generated snake (look-a-like Indian cobra) is being used without obtaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the Board." Dutta said in the movie poster and trailer, the snake was used as a medium of entertainment without obtaining any pre-shoot permission (PSP) or NOC from the board, which is a direct violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. "Therefore, it is directed to you (Madhav Media) to immediately stop the circulation of trailer and poster without obtaining proper permissions and submit a written explanation within 7 days of receipt of this letter for releasing the said poster and trailer without obtaining NOC from the Board," the notice added.

In the trailer, actor Simbu was seen handling a cobra, which is claimed to be computer generated. Snakes are not allowed to be used as performing animals in movies and if the charges are proven, it would be a violation under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. A formal complaint was lodged with the forest department by a Chennai-based animal rights activist and former member of the performing animals sub-committee after the show-cause notice was issued.

When contacted, Chennai forest ranger Clement Edison told The New Indian Express that the production house was yet to reply to the show-cause notice served. "They claimed that it was a computer generated graphic and said approvals were obtained. But we have asked for the relevant records. We have given them one week's time which will lapse by this weekend. Further course of action will be initiated appropriately."

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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