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Has The BJP Gone Too Far In Its Attack On ‘Mersal’ Actor Vijay?

Posted by Nishad Wankhade in Culture-Vulture, Health and Life
October 25, 2017

With the BJP leader H Raja publicly sharing the voter ID of Thalapathy Vijay, and linking the “Mersal” issue with his religion, the issue still remains a hot topic for the media.

The leader from Tamil Nadu aggravated the attack on the “Mersal” actor by using his voter ID to stress that his Christian faith is the reason why his film has shown PM Modi’s initiatives in bad light. Moreover, the actor’s production house was raided by IT officials on October 23. This was no coincidence, as Vishal had come out strongly in support of the film, claiming Raja had watched a pirated version of the movie.

Tamilians are looking at this controversy as Centre’s another insensitivity towards Tamil Nadu after Jallikattu and the NEET issue. Hoping to make inroads in TN politics, the party has stooped to new low. It succeeded in playing religion as a political card in the Hindi belt, but considering the state’s political history, its chances looks grim here.

The BJP seems to have dug its own grave in Tamil Nadu by attacking the actor, whose popularity has only been next to Rajnikanth in the state. He is popular for his philanthropic and welfare activities and has always been vocal about matters affecting common people. Whether it be the Anna andolan at Ramlila Maidan, the Jallikattu protest, or Anitha’s suicide, he has expressed his genuine concerns towards these matters. “Mersal” is not Vijay’s first movie to highlight social issues. His previous releases like “Bairavaa” and “Kaththi” also had strong messages. In “Kaththi”, he took up the issues of farmers and water and made a reference to the 2G corruption case. In “Bairavaa”, he plays a Samaritan who crusades against medical college mafia.

In “Mersal”, Vijay has taken it to the next level. He has raised not one but multiple issues viz pathetic condition of government hospitals, money-hungry doctors, the increase in C-sections for making money. The director makes a case for overhauling the healthcare system in India and free health care for all. That’s the most important message the movie conveys.

Isn’t the healthcare system in India in shambles? We still spend just over 1%of GDP on healthcare. We should be having prime-time debates about this. National family health survey 2014-15  revealed that at the all India level, the rate of C-sections has doubled over the last decade. In the last 20 years, it has risen six times. The rate in private hospitals (31.1%) is thrice that of C-sections in public hospitals (10.0%). Why is this not a national issue? An estimated 63 million people face poverty every year due to high “out of pocket” expenditure on healthcare. Why are these things the film discusses not being debated?

In this politicised atmosphere, the important social messages conveyed through the movie seem to have a taken a backseat. The BJP, desperate to make some political points, made this a mountain out of a molehill. Thanks to BJP, the international media is also reporting about #MersalvsModi.