Amazon Prime thriller on LTTE threat creates furore in Tamil Nadu
By P. K. Balachandran
COLOMBO – A Hindi-language commercial thriller The Family Man 2, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, has caused a huge furore in Tamil Nadu due to its portrayal of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organization and not as the vanguard of the minority Tamils’ struggle for freedom from the domination of the majority community in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu government has written to the Central government in New Delhi seeking a ban on the show. Tamil nationalist political leaders like Vaiko, Sabastian Seeman, and filmmaker Bharathiraja have also made similar demands. At least one aggrieved person has forwarded a petition to be signed and sent to the Central government seeking a ban.
Apart from the controversial portrayal of the Sri Lankan Tamil struggle as a terrorist and a destructive one, the script reportedly has gross inaccuracies. It says, erroneously, that the LTTE had links with the Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), which, to Indians, is a quintessential evil. The script also says the LTTE Supremo, V. Prabhakaran had quit the organization, when he hadn’t ever done that. It shows LTTE cadres drinking and smoking when both were taboo in the extremely puritanical organization.
The trailer of The Family Man 2 hit the web on May 19, featuring South Indian star Samantha Akkineni as Raji, a Sri Lankan Tamil girl and a part of the LTTE. Chennai is shown as being under an LTTE terrorist attack. The script is set in Tamil Nadu. The Family Man 2, directed by Raj and DK, features Manoj Bajpayee, Priyamani and Samantha Akkineni in lead roles.
The first season of The Family Man, released in 2019, had received kudos from audiences. It was a story of a middle-class family man Srikant Tiwari (played by Manoj Bajpayee), who becomes a world-class spy. The show explored the roots of Islamist terrorism in Kashmir and the geopolitical situation in that troubled State. It boldly showed the lack of trust between the Indian security forces and the people of Kashmir. In one of the scenes, Srikant’s Kashmiri colleague Saloni (played by Gul Panag) told him about how the security establishment shuts down basic facilities like the internet and phone lines.
But that accusation landed the serial makers in a soup. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindutwa organization and the backbone of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accused them of showing the Indian army in a negative light. Its organ Panchjanya called the show “anti-national and Jihadi”.
The Family Man 2 shifted to the Eelam Tamil question and the LTTE “threat’ to India. Super sleuth Srikant Tiwari stops Raji from leading a terrorist group and a vengeful Raji swears to “kill all.”
Reacting to this, Tamil Nadu politician Vaiko said the show depicted Tamilians as terrorists and ISI Agents having links with Pakistan. “These descriptions have hurt the sentiments of Tamil people and Tamil culture and offensive against the Tamil community.”
Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman had also demanded a ban for “intentionally portraying the LTTE as terrorists and Tamils as vicious people”. He tweeted his concerns and also alleged that its story being set in Chennai was “no coincidence”.
Reacting to this, the show’s directors Raj and DK said in a statement that some assumptions and impressions have been made based on just a couple of shots in the trailer. “Many of our lead cast members, as well as key members of the creative & writing team, are Tamilians. We are very cognizant of the sentiments of the Tamil people and Tamil culture and have nothing but the utmost love and respect towards our Tamil people,” they added.
In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Manoj Bajpayee said the show was created by a team dominated by Tamils (Indian Tamils), including directors, Raj and DK, actors Priyamani and Samantha Akkineni, and writer Suman, “who have great regard for Tamil culture.”
Samantha Akkineni and Sharib Hashmi in The Famil Many 2 – Amazon