#WeStandWithSuriya: Support pours in for actor amid casteist attacks against Jai Bhim

Dalit and Adivasi intellectuals, activists, and many social media users lent their support to actor Suriya following the casteist attacks against the actor and his much-acclaimed movie Jai Bhim.

On Monday, the Vanniyar Sangam state president issued a legal notice to Suriya and TJ Gnanavel, director of Jai Bhim, seeking an unconditional apology, removal of scenes from the film which they see as defamatory, and damages of Rs 5 crore. This notice which asks those behind the film to “cease and desist from making or publishing any false, malicious and defamatory remarks against (the Vanniyar) community and its people,” came after Pattali Makkal Katchi leader and former union health minister Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss lashed out at the actor, accusing him of hurting his community’s sentiments.

Jai Bhim was released on Amazon Prime Video on November 2. The film, directed by TJ Gnanavel, is about the custodial torture inflicted on the members of the Irular community and how a righteous lawyer takes on the system. The movie received overwhelming reviews from critics and audiences alike.

Suriya last week issued a statement saying that neither he nor his film crew had any intention of insulting any individual or community as alleged by Ramadoss.

“The core concept of Jai Bhim is how, in a case argued by the retired Justice Chandru, a legal struggle was waged against the authorities to help establish justice. We have also attempted to talk about the problems that indigenous people face in their everyday lives,” read the actor’s statement.

Pa Ranjith was the first director to express his support to his colleague Suriya.

“For the longest time, the hate politics and horrific violence of the PMK+Vanniyar Sangam caste fanatics used to be directed only against Dalits, esp VCK. Now PMK-Vanniyar Sangam have chosen a mainstream target. TN people must reject their hate politics,” award-winning author Meena Kandasamy tweeted.

“The actor gave one crore for education of irular children and in his letter to comrade K Balakrishnan has talked about exploring ways to help the education of kuravar children,” while lending her support to actor, Tamil Nadu journalist Kavitha Muralidharan tweeted.