Says director did not mean to denigrate Chola King
Film director Pa. Ranjith, whose comments on Chola King Raja Raja have evoked a controversy, found support in TNCC president K.S. Alagiri, who said there was nothing wrong if the director had expressed his opinion about the society during the period of Raja Raja. “I do not know whether Mr. Ranjith had made personal comments on the Chola King. If he had made such comments, they will not be acceptable,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Alagiri said a society that existed a thousand years ago was unlikely to be an egalitarian and there would be discriminations. “A close reading of the epigraphs belonged to the Chola period explains the truth,” he said. Mr. Alagiri said though the period of Cholas, who excelled in sea trade, had expertise in agriculture and irrigation techniques and temple architecture, could be described as “golden”, one should keep in mind the words of Leo Tolstoy that status was not applicable to the entire society.
“The society in the Chola period had various layers comprising both the rulers and slaves. There were people at the top of the social ladder and people in the lower rung. There is no evidence to prove that it was an egalitarian society. Women from the lower caste were dedicated to temples and there were slaves among women. I will not hold Raja Raja or Cholas responsible for the situation. I think the intention of Mr. Ranjith was not to denigrate Raja Raja,” he said.
Dalit Intellectuals’ Collective came out in support of director Mr. Ranjith, calling the filing of a case by Tirupananthal police as a curtailment of freedom of expression and liberty.
The statement, signed by C. Lakshmanan, Associate Professor with Madras Institute of Development Studies, said Mr. Ranjith’s remarks must be seen in a progressive spirit and in the backdrop of the evidence the director drew from historical accounts. Expressing solidarity with the director, the statement said instead of suppressing the freedom of expression, debates must be encouraged on issues raised by Mr. Ranjith.
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