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'Cow' leash on Malayalam film

Salim Kumar

Bangalore: A Malayalam film has come to grief over references to the "cow" days after a documentary on Amartya Sen was able to cross that particular hurdle only to trip over "Gujarat".

Salim Kumar, director and national award-winning actor, told The Telegraph on Saturday he had had to drop a scene showing the hero being attacked for allegedly beating up a cow.

Kumar, a liberal Hindu whose atheist father had chosen a Muslim first name for him, said the scene in the comedy Daivame Kaithozham K. Kumarakanam (this literally means "O Almighty, I pray to become K. Kumar" but is a phonetic takeoff on a popular Malayalam hymn that appeals to God to hear out and fulfill one's prayers), which released on Friday, did not show any cow.

"It's two minutes of mostly dialogue as Jayaram (who plays the hero K. Kumar) gets into an argument while trying to bring his runaway cow under control. I don't understand why anything to do with cows needs to be 'sensitive'," Kumar, a known Congress supporter, said.

Asked why he didn't go to the appellate tribunal, the 49-year-old who won the 2010 national award for best actor for Adaminte Makan Abu (Adam's Son Abu) said he didn't want to delay the release.

Viji Thambi, a Malayalam filmmaker and member of the Kerala regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification, insisted that the scene needed to be cut keeping communal sensitivities in mind.

"There was no cow in the scene but the dialogues between Jayaram and two groups of characters were not sensitive to the current communal situation. Jayaram was under attack for beating up the cow. So we decided to remove the scene," Thambi said.

Kumar conceded: "The removal of the scene did not affect the flow of the sequence, which is quite a relief to me."

Last week, the censors had asked economist-filmmaker Suman Ghosh to cut or beep out the word "Gujarat" in The Argumentative Indian, his documentary on Sen, after relenting on "cow" and a few other words that had aborted the film's release in July.

Kumar's Congress loyalties had led him to quit the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists when fellow member and actor Mohan Lal campaigned for a Left candidate.

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