Right-wing extremists vandalise Minnal Murali set; makers and industry insiders condemn incident
The group said they were offended by the construction of a church set opposite a Mahadeva temple
A set of actor Tovino Thomas' upcoming Malayalam superhero film, Minnal Murali has been vandalised by a group of right-wing extremists in Ernakulam, Kerala.
On Monday morning, social media was abuzz with news of the incident after the representative of the aforementioned group proudly claimed responsibility for the attack by sharing pictures of the destroyed set along with their contact number on Facebook.
The group said they were offended by the construction of a church set opposite a Mahadeva temple, adding that they won't let their self-respect be tainted by pleading with the concerned authorities or lodging complaints.
The Minnal Murali team has confirmed that they constructed the highly-expensive set (estimated to cost around 50 lakhs) on the land in question after getting the approval and filling out the necessary paperwork. The team had begun filming March when the pandemic put a dent in their plans.
The makers have already initiated legal proceedings against the hooligans. The latest update is that police have already arrested one person who was named in the group's Facebook post.
Calling the incident "unfortunate" and a "colossal loss," producer Sophia Paul said that the film required almost two years of preproduction and planning owing to its scope and scale. "Unfortunately due to the pandemic we couldn’t resume the shoot and were waiting for government guidance regarding the permissions to resume the shoot. The set at Kalady was planned and built for one of our most important scenes. All required permissions to build the set at the location was taken."
Tovino Thomas, who plays the titular superhero, said the set construction was carried out by art director Manu Jagad and team, under special instructions by stunt choreographer Vlad Rimburg. "The reasons they (the group) cite for this unceremonious act are not comprehensible to our senses. We’ve heard of movie sets being vandalised by religious fanatics in northern parts of India. Now, it’s happening to us right here."
Director Basil Joseph said it was very saddening to see two years of hard work being destroyed this way. "Our art director and team have toiled in the scorching heat to make this happen. We had all the necessary permissions with us. When everyone is fighting the pandemic and feeling helpless, when everyone is supposed to stay united, I didn't expect something like this to happen, especially in our Kerala."
Several actors, filmmakers and other professionals from the Malayalam film industry have condemned this menace. B Unnikrishnan, film director and general secretary of Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), has urged the government to take strict action against the perpetrators.
Expressing solidarity with the team of Minnal Murali, Jayaraj, film director and chairman of Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), urged every Malayali to protest against those propagating communal disharmony.