Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan on Tuesday said the recent agitation against the ban on Jallikattu, the popular and ancient bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, is nothing but a symbol of discontent and anger.
Haasan had actively voiced his opinion over the Jallikattu row and had requested that the sport be regulated, and not banned.
On Monday, he expressed “shock” over alleged videos of policemen committing arson, via Twitter. He also criticised the police crackdown on the protesters and requested them to stay calm.
Talking to reporters at his residence here on Tuesday, he said: “This whole agitation is a symbol of discontent and decades of various kinds of anger. This is not a sudden outburst. It happened because we found a reason. We have always been looking for reasons.”
Asked if the protest should be seen as anti-national, he said: “Several leaders of the past have demanded a separate country for Tamil Nadu. Were they anti-national'”
Talking about the culture of ban, he said he is against any kind of ban — be it on his movies or bulls.
“Don’t come around with ban. Try and regulate it. More people die in automobile accidents than in Jallikattu. We don’t ban automobile driving or car racing sport. My film (‘Vishwaroopam’) was banned because some people claimed it was anti-Muslim, but it was not,” he said.
Quoting an example from his own life, Haasan said: “I was a part of a Hindi agitation movement in Tamil Nadu. It was not against the language Hindi. I used to pray in Sanskrit. It was not even against the people. It was against the thrusting of Hindi language on us (Tamilians) and making us illiterates overnight.”
When reminded that the Jallikattu protest was a leaderless movement, Kamal quoted the words of French philosopher Albert Camus.
“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
“You’re calling this a leaderless movement, but look at the cohesion. My biggest worry were the women and children amidst lakhs of protesters. Nothing happened to them. You saw healthy, happy Nirbhayas amidst my brothers. Gandhiji’s dream – the nation is truly free when a bejewelled woman walks in midnight – had come true,” he said.
He also added that he did not participate in the protest because he didn’t want to steal the limelight.
“They came to my office and invited me. But as I had said before, I didn’t want the spotlight to shift on me. It was a legitimate protest and its momentum should continue. I’m just giving the movement some extra light by talking about it now,” he explained.
Asked if other actors could have been forced to take a pro-Jallikattu stand, he said: “Maybe, yes. We have always been easy targets. Government attacks us. People attack us. Even the press attacks us.”
He, however, clarified he wasn’t forced to take any stand.
“I am the only actor who made a film on two important issues — Jallikattu and death sentence — in my film ‘Virumaandi’. I have been talking about Jallikattu for 13 years,” he said.