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The Sarkar Controversy – Are Films Affecting Society?

Jul 13, 2018

The Sarkar Controversy – Are Films Affecting Society?
The Sarkar Controversy – Are Films Affecting Society? | Credit: Firstpost

Between the two statements of ‘Films influence reality’ and ‘Reality is what films are based on’ there is an unending debate. Both the views are supported by sufficient sections of the society and that makes it even difficult to arrive at a conclusion. In a country like India where films are more than just entertainment, this question and the need for a clear answer becomes all the more relevant.

Indian cinema has been accused of crossing the lines set by the moral police of the country many a time. In India, film stars are given a demi-god status and are seen as role-models for youngsters. They are not seen as just actors but are seen as leaders of a sort. People mimic the on-screen behaviour of their favourite stars and take pride in doing so faultlessly. Particularly in South India, fans go to the extent of building temples and worshipping their favourite film stars. In such a star-crazy nation, it is obvious that the stars themselves have a responsibility to shoulder.

Many South Indian stars use their large fan base to promote social causes such as blood donation, organ donation, organising clean-ups, charities, etc. At the same time, their main job as actors is to tell interesting and entertaining stories that are relevant to the current scenario. This is where they get into a sticky situation.

There have been many controversies where organisations and certain sections of the society have protested against movie stars promoting activities such as smoking, drinking, stalking, etc in their films. The latest movie to get into this controversy is Tamil superstar Vijay’s Sarkar.

Sarkar is an upcoming movie that is much-awaited by Vijay fans. Directed by A R Murugadoss, this movie has expectations skyrocketing thanks to its stellar cast and technicians. The makers released the first-look poster for the movie amid much fan frenzy in June.

However, as soon as the poster was released, certain sections of the society found it difficult to accept that the star was shown to be smoking a cigarette in the poster.

The first person to criticise the poster vocally was former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss who tweeted saying, “Shame on actor Vijay for promoting smoking in this first look of his next movie.”

Also, the Tamil Nadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control filed a complaint with the state health department against the makers. Following that, the Directorate of Public Health issued a notice to actor Vijay and to director A R Murugadoss asking them to remove the poster. According to the notice, if the makers failed to take it down then they would be liable for a jail term of up to two years with or without a fine of Rs 1000.

Following this, the makers withdrew the posters and deleted it on all social media accounts. However, fans of actor Vijay were displeased about this and they shared the poster extensively on social media as a sign of protest.

Many fans are saying that there are many actors who are smoking on-screen and that it is unfair to single out actor Vijay’s film. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, people are saying that it is a good thing that the posters have been withdrawn as it sets an example for other films.

Is it right for youngsters to be blindly influenced by film stars? Actors are meant to play different characters on-screen as part of their jobs, is it right to restrict their artistic freedom?

These are questions that have to be seriously thought about. It is the duty of parents to make sure that youngsters don’t get influenced by films and know the difference between what is right for them and what is not. It is important to differentiate between entertainment and real-life and develop that maturity among youngsters rather than going all out to blame film-makers and actors for the current state of affairs in the society.