Sri Lankan filmmaker on fast against Indian mob attack

March 27th, 2008 - 1:47 pm ICT by admin  

By P.K. Balachandran
Colombo, March 27 (IANS) Sri Lankan film director Thushara Peiries, who was allegedly attacked by a mob in Chennai for making an allegedly “anti-Tamil” film, is on a “fast-unto-death” demanding that the two governments help him get back prints of his film. “I have stopped having food, water and medicines. I want the Sri Lankan and Indian governments to get involved and help me get the prints of my film back from the mob which seized them after beating me badly,” Peiries told IANS from his bed at the Nawaloka hospital here.

The attack, he said, took place Tuesday at the Gemini Colour Laboratories in Chennai where his maiden celluloid venture “Prabhakaran” was undergoing final processing.

The demonstrators, who according to Peiries were members of the Chennai film technicians’ union, were under the impression that the film was about Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and that it was critical of the rebel leader and the Tamil separatist campaign.

The attackers shouted angry slogans against Peiries for producing an “anti-Tamil” film. At least one of them beat him up.

The Italy-trained burly 39-year-old filmmaker, who has made 19 tele-dramas, said he passed out for about 45 minutes after the beating. On recovery, he found that he had been stripped and that he was bleeding from the nose.

The mob leaders gave him a shirt to wear and asked him to wash his face.

“I tried to explain to them that the film was not anti-Tamil or anti-Sinhalese, but to no avail,” Peiries lamented.

“The film is about how poor low caste Tamils and Sinhalese are made to go to war and die while the rich and high caste leaders sit comfortably in safety, and direct the fighting. But the mob would not listen.

“Some people in the crowd shouted that I made the film for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is not true. The president just wanted to see the film. I was told about his interest in seeing it two weeks ago,” he said.

“At the end, their leaders agreed to watch the film to ensure that there were no anti-Tamil passages. I agreed. But later, I learnt to my shock, that the technicians’ union had seized the prints. I want them back.” Peiries said.

Sent back to Colombo Wednesday by the Indian authorities for his own safety, Peiries said he was still bleeding from the nose and was vomiting frequently. He had a cut on his back and his eyes were bloodshot.

A spokesperson for the demonstrators told the BBC Tamil Service Wednesday that the protest took place because there were fears that the “anti-Tamil” movie was on the verge of being released in five centres in Tamil Nadu.

Peiries was making a Tamil as well as a Sinhalese version of “Prabhakaran”.

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