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Who is Vishal to interfere in my life: Cheran lashes out at actor in 7-page letter

Recently, while campaigning for the position of president of Tamil Film Producers’ Council, Vishal had made certain statements that have not gone down too well with some of the producers in general and Cheran in particular.

Cheran and Vishal

Manigandan KR

Director-actor Cheran has written a stinging seven-page letter to actor Vishal, lambasting him for his decision to contest the upcoming Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC) elections and for suggesting that he (Cheran) be paid a sum of Rs5,000 every month.

Vishal, who is the secretary of the South Indian Actors’ Association, better known as the Nadigar Sangam, is at present contesting for the president’s post in the upcoming elections to the TFPC. Recently, while campaigning for the position, Vishal had made certain statements that have not gone down too well with some of the producers in general and Cheran in particular.

Cheran, who begins the letter by addressing Vishal as 'Nadigar Sangam Secretary', goes on to ask, “What has happened to you? You used to be fine. You have reached a stage where you do not seem to know what you are speaking or doing. Why? You seem to think that just because the media covers your speeches, you are here to rescue the world. Do you know how your words and actions, made in that belief, are hurting everybody (sic)?

“You hold just one position… that of the secretary of the Nadigar Sangam. You are someone who has won an election that was conducted by a body with just 3,000 members. Apart from becoming the Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam, what else have you achieved?" questioned Cheran.

“From all the films that you have been a part of, can you name at least one film which you can say has been useful to the world and the people?  What right do people like you, who make films that are like outdated movies in which item songs are featured, have to talk about the politics in the state? This can’t even be termed popularity intoxication. This is a kind of disease. It is best that one visits a doctor," read the letter.

Cheran doesn’t stop with that. He goes on to raise further questions. “You [Vishal] now say that you are contesting for the president’s post of the Tamil Film Producers’ Council. Why do you have so much love for posts? You are already the secretary of the Nadigar Sangam and there is a lot that is yet to be accomplished there. You haven’t fulfilled even 80 per cent of your promises [made while contesting the Nadigar Sangam elections]. If you think that you need a change in the Producer Council, you could have picked a good producer and asked him to contest the elections to the TFPC. You could have expressed your support for him. You could have brought about a change by doing that. But why did it not occur to you that you could have done that?”

Referring to the Nadigar Sangam building that is yet to be constructed, the director-turned-actor says, “You still haven’t even placed a brick in place to build the Nadigar Sangam building… In such a scenario where work pertaining to the Nadigar Sangam is yet to be completed, I do not know why you harbour intentions of becoming the president of the Producers' Council.

“You are under the wrong impression that by giving freebies you can win an election. You have issued a statement that producers will get free land. How is that possible? Where is the land? Where is the money for that in the Producers' Council? What is the feasibility to make those funds available? Can you explain how you will implement it practically? You need to explain all of this and then announce a scheme. What you need to understand is that the members of the Producers' Council are all producers. These are people, who, by having invested a minimum of a crore in a film, have identified themselves as crorepatis. What they require is not welfare schemes. What they require is work. Work for everybody. Schemes that will facilitate that and good business. Instead of announcing such schemes, you have announced free land. How poorly you seem to have thought of producers!”

Asking Vishal to give details of how many small film producers he had given dates to, Cheran, in his letter, asks, “Do you know the present plight of the producers who made your films? What is your pay for a film? You speak so much. If you had taken a justifiable amount as salary, how peaceful your producers would have been! What did you do for the producer who introduced you? At least do you know what he is doing now? What happened to the Rs45 lakh that you promised to give him on sets? Despite earning several crores after that, why did you not have the heart to give away that sum? That producer is in dire straits now. You are not concerned about him. In such a scenario, how can you speak of small film producers?”

Taking serious exception to Vishal’s statements on expressing support to Kamal Haasan, Cheran says, "To top all of this, you say in an interview that you will not remain silent if Kamal sir has a problem. What arrogance! Who are you to Kamal? There are crores of fans who will take care of Kamal sir if there is a problem for him. He is not an ordinary person. His standard and popularity are not that low for someone like you to stand [for] and protect. Where were you when he faced the Vishwaroopam problem? Were you not a Kamal fan then? Or did you not have any idea of entering politics then?"

Finally, he goes on to talk about Vishal’s comment on him.

“Then, you say that I am struggling; That I do not have any films; That the TFPC should give me a sum of Rs5,000 every month. These statements evoke more laughter than the comedy you do in your films. It is true that I am in a financially difficult situation. I don’t deny it. But that is my life. Who are you to interfere in that? I can, with arrogance, say that your films cannot be compared with my films. This society and the Tamil people have given me that recognition. Did I come and tell you that I am facing hardship? Or did I come and ask you for an opportunity? If by paying me Rs5,000, my problems will end, then 5,000 should be enough for you too, is it not? Assume you work on a film for six months. By virtue of calculating your salary at Rs5,000 a month, your total pay will only be Rs30,000. Are you ready to work?

“Know who you are taking on before you take them on. I am the one to decide whether I want to do a film or not,” Cheran says and goes on to add among other things, “Do you know something? I am now in the process of making a film. There is this actor, who, despite knowing my difficult situation and financial problems, has wished me well. He told me, ‘You tell me your story, I will act in your film. After listening to your story, I will give you dates.’ What he said is compassion. The actor I am talking about is Vijay Sethupathi. He is a humanitarian who analyses what the right solution to a man’s problems is. I can bow to him in respect, how many ever times I need to – not because he has given me dates but because of his good heart which seeks to understand others’ problems and wipe it away. My film is on its way. We are again going to resume work. So, you need not worry about me anymore.” 

Cheran also raises several other points and questions in his letter to Vishal and finally concludes it by thanking him for his mercy.