Days ahead of the scheduled release of Mersal, actor Vijay met with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswa...
We had reported on Saturday that the upcoming Vijay-starrer Mersal has run into trouble with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which has revealed that it has not granted an NOC, which is necessary for a film to get certified by the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Interestingly, the makers had tweeted on October 6 that the film has been certified U/A, and on Friday evening, the CBFC came out with a statement saying they haven’t issued a certificate to the film.
While the makers of Mersal remain unavailable for any comments on these issues. The source says that a series of events has led to the current situation.
Talking about how the issue developed, he says:
- The team started shooting after getting pre-shoot permissions from us. They have used a lot of animals in the film and they got permissions for this part by part. For a shoot that happened in Binny Mills, we came to know that they were shooting with animals and birds for which they did not take permission for — macaque, cockatoos, pigeons and snakes. But by the time we reached there, someone had moved all of those animals from there. However, we found feathers and bird droppings all around the place.
- We took a photograph and filed a Community Service Register. And the next week, they applied for permission for the scenes they had already shot. So, we rejected it, saying that they had shot the scenes without getting permissions. We told them to give us the footage of the shoot and the details of the suppliers. Then, they admitted they had made a big mistake by shooting those scenes without taking permission. And assured us that they wouldn’t use those shots. As for the suppliers, they told us that the suppliers had run away and they did not have their details! It was implausible. How could someone run away with animals from the set of a big film with tight security like Mersal? So, the Performing Animals Sub Committee (PASC), which is part of the AWBI, did not give permission.
- Then, there were scenes of horses and camels being made to perform. So, the committee rejected the NOC for that. Because, when they had come for pre-shoot approval, the committee was told that those animals would only be in the background. But in the actual footage, we found them performing. Finally, they were asked to submit the entire footage of the scenes where animals were used in one CD. They still haven’t submitted it. They told us that the birds used in the film are computer graphics (CG), but haven’t submitted any supporting documents for that yet. Apart from these, the scenes which they told us were shot in Thailand came for NOC last week.
- In the document they had submitted, they had mentioned that the snake used in it was the king cobra, whose scientific name is Ophiophagus hannah. But the footage had an Indian cobra, the spectacled cobra whose scientific name is Naja naja. Indian cobras come under the Wildlife Protection Act, so we couldn’t give permission. It is because of these three things that the AWBI hasn’t given NOC for the film.”
- A lot of movies try to cheat us by providing fake documents. Sometimes they say they are shooting in foreign countries and not in India, and they use real animals, but submit fake documents showing that they were created using computer graphics. Apart from this, there are many illegal animal suppliers who help them. The main producer of the film may not be aware of all this, but the people whom he designates the work to go ahead without getting permissions. They get animals from these illegal suppliers and put the movies into trouble. The PASC meets every Wednesday and if the documents are all in place, they give permissions immediately and NOCs after seeing the footages that involve animals.”
Meanwhile, MM Mathialagan, Regional Officer, CBFC, says that the makers shouldn’t have claimed that the film has been certified U/A when the censor formalities haven’t been completed yet. He explains, “I don’t know why the team announced on social media that their project has been censored, which has led to all this confusion now. With such a big project, one which has huge expectations, what the makers did is beyond understanding. In fact, the censor process is happening only now, though I cannot reveal when the board will issue the certificate.”