Life-sized cut-outs are anything but new to Tamil cinema, which often goes hand-in-hand with ubiquitous banners of Kollywood’s dearest. But the winds of change may be finally blowing in. Following the death of 23-year-old techie Subhasri, Kollywood stars have decided to say no to banner culture.
Subhasri was riding her two-wheeler on the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road in the city last week, when a banner (erected by an AIADMK functionary for his son’s wedding) fell on her, causing her to lose balance. Seconds later, the techie was run over by a water tanker, which crushed her to death. The incident sparked immense anger among the residents of Tamil Nadu, with its effect spilling onto Kollywood as well.“It is our responsibility to make sure that we do not let these incidents happen again,” veteran actor Kamal Haasan declared in a monologue in the latest Bigg Boss Tamil episode.
Kamal further called attention to the death of Ragupathy Kandasamy, a 30-year-old who lost his life after crashing into a wooden hoarding in Coimbatore in 2017. It is time for people to wake up and be responsible, the actor added. “Subhasri’s death is not the first such incident. In 2017, Ragu lost his life in Coimbatore. A lot of people might say that the banner might not have anything to do with politics. But it becomes politics when you bring notices of marriages onto the streets. There is no need for such big banners to announce marriages, birthdays and death anniversaries,” he said.The actor further threw light on a similar incident, which changed his perspective. “Thirty years ago, a fan of mine was decorating a 30-foot cut out of me, and he fell down, and lost his life. When I went to his house to offer my condolences, his mother was sitting alone. She told me that he was my biggest fan. I did not know what to say. That is when I got out and told my fans to never offer milk or garlands to my posters or erect cut-outs,” the actor said.
Actors Suriya and Aari, too, requested fans to stay away from erecting life-sized cut-outs. “Like I have done before, I humbly request everyone to stop this banner culture. It is not necessary at all. Let us not continue doing this, especially after an incident like this has happened,” Suriya said during a press meet for his upcoming film, Kaappaan. “Subhasri was driving home from work. But she never reached home. Will we ever get her life back? Our entire system needs to change,” actor Aari said at an audio launch event, further requesting Kollywood stars to take a pledge against banner culture.
Stars apart, fan clubs, too, are doing their bit to turn over a new leaf. “We take an oath to refrain from erecting banners ahead of Thala Ajith ’s films,” read a poster released by Manithakadavul Ajith Bakthargal, Ajith’s fan club in Madurai. Actor Vijay’s fan club in Kanchipuram, too, took the lead. “As per Thalapathy’s instructions, we will not erect banners for Bigil’s audio launch,” a statement from Kanchi Mavatta Ilaignar Ani Thalapathy Vijay Makkal Iyakkam read. A Suriya fan club in Tirunelveli further went on to donate 200 helmets as part of his hero’s upcoming film’s celebrations, as a replacement to cut-outs.