Cauvery Issue

Kattappa killed Baahubali. He apologises to ensure that he doesn’t kill the sequel too

Until Tamil actor Sathyaraj apologised for his remarks on the Cauvery issue, the makers of ‘Baahubali 2’ feared they would pay the price in Karnataka.

Why Kattappa killed Baahubali is no longer the mind-numbing riddle for fans of SS Rajamouli’s epic fantasy adventure. That question, until Friday, was replaced with a tougher one: would Tamil actor Sathyaraj, who plays the abject warrior in the fictional Mahishmathi kingdom in Baahubali, apologise for his remarks on the Cauvery river issue?

The April 28 release of the sequel, Baahubali 2, had run into trouble in Karnataka over the veteran actor’s remarks in 2008 on the sharing of the Cauvery river waters. The festering dispute over the 800-kilometre-long Cauvery river, which originates in Karnataka, has riven the film industries of both states for years. Actors and filmmakers in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have frequently participated in protests and made statements supporting the stand of their respective governments.

In his fiery speech made during a protest that was attended by Tamil film celebrities, including Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, Sathyaraj roundly condemned Karnataka’s demands and declared that Tamilians should not stand mute like a tree on which a dog urinates.

The Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha, led by Vatal Nagaraj, has called for a Bengaluru bandh on April 28. The shutdown has the support of the official bodies of the Kannada film industry. In a previous protest meeting organised by the Nadigar Sangam, which represents Tamil actors, Sathyaraj had called Vatal Nagaraj a comedian.

On Friday afternoon, ANI reported that Satyaraj had apologise for his remarks.

But before this, NM Suresh, secretary of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, told Scroll.in, “Sathyaraaj has made cheap comments about Karnataka and Kannadigas. We are not bothered if it is an old video, it resurfaced three months back. It is a fact and it has hurt us. We have always given solid support to Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films in Karnataka. They have all enjoyed good business here. The same cannot be said about Kannada films in neighbouring states.”

The Kannadiga activists claimed that the state’s exhibitors were also on their side. “We are not against Rajamouli, we respect him but we want Sathyaraj to apologise,” Suresh said. “He does not have to come here, he can do it on Facebook too. It is a question of our prestige.”

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Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is one of the year’s most hotly anticipated movies and the solo release on April 28. The combined budget is pegged at Rs 450 crore. Baahubali 2 is set to releases on 6,500 screens in India and on 650 screens in the United States alone. It has been made simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil and dubbed in Malayalam and Hindi.

Rajamouli was worried enough about the potential loss of business in Karnataka to release a video in which he spoke in Kannada and pleaded with protestors to allow his labour of love to be released in the state. Delinking his mega-budget film from Sathyaraj’s views, Rajamouli said, “His work in the movie and what he said are not related. It was his personal opinion. He is not the producer of the movie… If you stop the screening of this movie, please understand that Sathyaraj will not be affected in any way. The people who will be affected are the ones who worked on the film over the last five years – the technicians, the crew, the producers, and the Karnataka distributors; not to mention all the movie lovers who appreciate good cinema.”

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SS Rajamouli’s video appeal.

By not releasing Baahubali 2 in Karnataka, the state’s distributors and exhibitors could have faced losses running into crores. “The film was being offered to distributors at rates higher than Rs 45 crore,” said Ramu, a veteran producer of action films. “It is all about business for Rajamouli, finally. The film will not be released in theatres here unless Sathyaraj comes to Bengaluru and apologises to Kannadigas.”

Flared tempers over Cauvery water sharing and riverine projects have singed even Rajinikanth, who was born in Bengaluru. In 2008, the Tamil star was forced to apologise to Karnataka for supporting the proposed Hogenakkal drinking water project in Dharmapuri, which uses Tamil Nadu’s share of the Cauvery river. Rajinikanth had to buy peace to ensure that his movie Kuselan was released in Karnataka.

Sathyaraj and director Bharathiraaja had criticised Rajinikanth’s apology at the time, claiming that rather than capitulating, he should have compensated his producers and distributors for the film’s non-release.

Tamil film personalities have even swallowed losses to their own productions over the issue. In September 2016, protests followed a Supreme Court order to Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. Tamil film industry associations enforced a day-long bandh, damaging the prospects of local releases.

Although the ire of the Kannadiga activists was directed at Sathyaraj, members of the Telugu film fraternity are nervous that other releases will be affected too. Karnataka is an important territory for Telugu cinema, said Rajkumar Akella, head of the anti-piracy cell at the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce. Karnataka contributes 10-15% more revenue for Telugu films than Tamil Nadu, and Telugu stars such as Mahesh Babu, Pawan Kalyan and Nagarjuna have a sizable fan following there, Akella said.

An equally big headache for Arka Mediaworks, the Bahubaali franchise’s producer, is piracy. The movie is being released in new overseas territories such as East Asia, and it has been subtitled in multiple foreign languages. The greater a film’s exposure, the greater the chances of intellectual theft, which is why Arka Mediaworks is working with the Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit, private anti-piracy companies around the country, and an in-house anti-piracy unit to ensure that the film isn’t ripped and uploaded on pirate sites.

“The challenge this time is because it has such a widespread release and leaks can happen anywhere,” Akella said. A John Doe order against piracy obtained from courts before the release of the first film will continue to be effective for the concluding part of Bahubaali too.

But before the pirates, it’s Kattappa whom Rajamouli was worried about. “Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali” was a question that had now morphed into, “Did Kattappa kill Baahubali 2”?

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London then and now – As experienced by Indians

While much has changed, the timeless quality of the city endures.

“I found the spirit of the city matching the Bombay spirit. Like Bombay, the city never sleeps and there was no particular time when you couldn’t wander about the town freely and enjoy the local atmosphere”, says CV Manian, a PhD student in Manchester in the ‘80s, who made a trip to London often. London as a city has a timeless quality. The seamless blend of period architecture and steel skyscrapers acts as the metaphor for a city where much has changed, but a lot hasn’t.

The famed Brit ‘stiff upper lip, for example, finds ample validation from those who visited London decades ago. “The people were minding their business, but never showed indifference to a foreigner. They were private in their own way and kept to themselves.” Manian recollects. Aditya Dash remembers an enduring anecdote from his grandmother’s visit to London. “There is the famous family story where she was held up at Heathrow airport. She was carrying zarda (or something like that) for my grandfather and customs wanted to figure out if it was contraband or not.”

However, the city always housed contrasting cultures. During the ‘Swinging ‘60s’ - seen as a precursor to the hippie movement - Shyla Puri’s family had just migrated to London. Her grandfather still remembers the simmering anti-war, pro-peace sentiment. He himself got involved with the hippie movement in small ways. “He would often talk with the youth about what it means to be happy and how you could achieve peace. He wouldn’t go all out, but he would join in on peace parades and attend public talks. Everything was ‘groovy’ he says,” Shyla shares.

‘Groovy’ quite accurately describes the decade that boosted music, art and fashion in a city which was till then known for its post-World-War austerities. S Mohan, a young trainee in London in the ‘60s, reminisces, “The rage was The Beatles of course, and those were also the days of Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald.” The likes of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd were inspiring a cultural revolution in the city. Shyla’s grandfather even remembers London turning punk in the ‘80s, “People walking around with leather jackets, bright-colored hair, mohawks…It was something he would marvel at but did not join in,” Shyla says.

But Shyla, a second-generation Londoner, did join in in the revival of the punk culture in the 21st century. Her Instagram picture of a poster at the AfroPunk Fest 2016 best represents her London, she emphatically insists. The AfroPunk movement is trying to make the Punk culture more racially inclusive and diverse. “My London is multicultural, with an abundance of accents. It’s open, it’s alive,” Shyla says. The tolerance and openness of London is best showcased in the famous Christmas lights at Carnaby Street, a street that has always been popular among members of London’s alternate cultures.

Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)
Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)

“London is always buzzing with activity. There are always free talks, poetry slams and festivals. A lot of museums are free. London culture, London art, London creativity are kept alive this way. And of course, with the smartphones navigating is easy,” Shyla adds. And she’s onto something. Manian similarly describes his ‘80s rendezvous with London’s culture, “The art museums and places of interest were very illustrative and helpful. I could tour around the place with a road map and the Tube was very convenient.” Mohan, with his wife, too made the most of London’s cultural offerings. “We went to see ‘Swan Lake’ at the Royal Opera House and ‘The Mousetrap’ by Agatha Christie. As an overseas graduate apprentice, I also had the pleasure to visit the House of Lords and take tea on the terrace.”

For the casual stroller along London’s streets today, the city would indeed look quite different from what it would’ve to their grandparents. Soho - once a poor suburb known for its crime and sex industry - is today a fashionable district of upmarket eateries and fashion stores. Most of the big British high street brands have been replaced by large international stores and the London skyline too has changed, with The Shard being the latest and the most impressive addition. In fact, Shyla is quite positive that her grandfather would not recognise most of the city anymore.

Shyla, though, isn’t complaining. She assures that alternate cultures are very much alive in the city. “I’ve seen some underground LGBT clubs, drag clubs, comedy clubs, after midnight dance-offs and empty-warehouse-converted parties. There’s a space for everybody.” London’s cosmopolitan nature remains a huge point of attraction for Indian visitors even today. Aditya is especially impressed by the culinary diversity of London and swears that, “some of the best chicken tikka rolls I have had in my life were in London.” “An array of accents flood the streets. These are the people who make London...LONDON,” says Shyla.

It’s clear that London has changed a lot, but not really all that much. Another aspect of Indians’ London experience that has remained consistent over the past decades is the connectivity of British Airways. With a presence in India for over 90 years, British Airways has been helping generations of Indians discover ‘their London’, just like in this video.

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For more information on special offers on flights to London and other destinations in the UK, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.