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Dulquer Salmaan clarifies on the Prabhakara joke in Varane Avashyamund

In a scene from the film, actor Suresh Gopi calls his dog Prabhakara, which has upset a section of Tamil viewers, who have perceived it as an attack on the late LTTE head Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Dulquer Salmaan’s latest Malayalam film, Varane Avashyamund (2020), which is now out on Netflix, has landed in another controversy. Some viewers have taken offence to a dialogue in the film and forced its lead actor and director to apologize.

A scene from the film upset a section of Tamil viewers, who misinterpreted it as an attack on the late Sri Lankan separatist Velupillai Prabhakaran, head of the once-dominant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In the scene, actor Suresh Gopi calls his dog Prabhakara. Many Tamil viewers interpreted it as an indirect attack on Prabhakaran. Calling it slander, many Twitter users demanded an apology from Dulquer Salmaan and director Anoop Sathyan.

Dulquer Salmaan, who is also the producer of the film, took to Twitter and wrote: “A lot of people have brought to my notice that the Prabhakaran joke in Varane Avashyamund is insulting to the Tamizh people. It was not intentional. The joke is a reference to an older Malayalam film Pattana Pravesham (1988) and is a common meme in Kerala.” He also posted a scene from the older Malayalam film to make his point.

Dulquer Salmaan added that Prabhakaran is a very “common name in Kerala as well so it wasn’t directed at any person living or dead, as our disclaimer mentions in the beginning of the film”.

“Most people reacting are doing so without watching the film and trying to spread hate," the actor said. "Hating me and my director Anoop we can accept. Kindly keep it to us and not our fathers or senior actors from the film. I apologize to all of the good and kind Tamizh people who felt offended. I have never intended to offend anyone through my films or my words. It’s genuinely a misunderstanding."

Reacting to the abuse hurled at the team, Anoop Sathyan, the director, said in a statement: “I was noticing the abusive posts/tags towards us about this particular funny sequence from our film, Varane Avashyamund, with the name 'Prabhakaran' in it. At first, I thought it's better to ignore the negativity. Then, it got infectious and I believe I should officially make it clear as the writer-director of the film. The sequence is a direct reference from the Malayalam film, Pattana Pravesham, a hilarious scene, which is a common meme/sticker/troll because of its genuine humour. It has no reference to the LTTE leader Prabhakaran.”

The film had landed in another controversy a few days ago when a woman journalist accused the makers of fat-shaming her by using her photographs without her consent.

The film, which was a box-office hit, also stars Shobana and Kalyani Priyadarshan.