Acclaimed character actor Prakash Raj has broken his silence on the slapping scene in the critically acclaimed Tamil film ‘Jai Bhim’. Raj, who plays IG Perumalsamy, slaps a Hindi-speaking pawnbroker, who looks to use language as an instrument to obfuscate the truth and his involvement in the crime. The IG asks him to speak in Tamil. The scene did not go down well with a certain section of the audience and triggered a major debate on social media, with many expressing their displeasure on Twitter.
Tweeting the link of an interview he had given to a news channel, Prakash Raj on Saturday wrote, “Opened up on the slapping controversy of #JaiBheem and more. Do spend a few minutes to read and share … keep supporting relevant cinema … love you all #JaiBheem.”
In the interview, the actor said, “After watching a film such as ‘Jai Bhim’, they did not see the agony of the tribal people, they did not see and feel terrible about the injustice, they saw only the slap. That is all they understood; this exposes their agenda. That said, certain things have to be documented. For example, the anger of South Indians on Hindi being forced upon them.”
Explaining the relevance of the scene, Raj said: “How else will a police officer who is investigating a case react when he knows that a person who understands the local language, chooses to speak only in Hindi to dodge the interrogation? That has to be documented, right? The film is set in the 1990s. If that character had Hindi imposed on him, he would have reacted this way only. Probably if it came across as more intense, it is also because that is my thought too, and I stand by that thought.”
Replying to his critics with a strong riposte, the actor said: “For some, the slap scene irked only because it was Prakash Raj on screen. They appear more naked than me now, because their intent has been revealed.
If the pain of the tribal people did not move them, then, all I say is: ‘Unakku ivvalavuthaan purinju daha da, nee thaana avan? (Is that all you understood? Are you that kind of person?) There’s no point reacting to such bigots. You know, I came to Hindi very late. I have also given back something to that industry. It’s okay for us to have differences, we have to learn to live with them. The focus here is on the injustice. Let us be fair.”