Mumbai: Tamil actor-activist Vishal Krishna was arrested on December 20 for breaking the lock of the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) of which he is the elected President, and entering forcibly. Disgruntled producers who locked Vishal out have accused him of financial irregularities. But the actor, now freed after a favourable ruling by the court, remains unfazed.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: That arrest must have shocked you?
A: Very much so. I was shocked. I knew I had made many enemies... or rather I wouldn't call them enemies, but people who are not on the same page as me. Ironically they slapped me with charges from the wrong section and arrested me.
To my good fortune, the honourable judge ordered my immediate release. It just strengthens my belief in our country's judicial system, and also in my belief that the truth, which always hurts the untruthful, will always prevail.
Bullying tactics won't work with me. When they tried to stop me I refused to listen to them. Who are they to try to stop me? I am an elected President of the TFPC. How can they prevent me from going into my own office?"
Q: You took over as the President of the TFPC with a lot of hope and passion. Do you see recent developments as discouraging?
A: Not at all. We've scored many successes, the biggest of them being the number of hit films in Tamil in 2018. It is the highest number in recent times. Do you know why this happened? Because producers co-operated and did not insist on releasing two or more films on the same Friday. Instead the films were spaced out and came out one after the other week after week.
Even when producers insisted on releasing films in a bunch on a festive weekend, we convinced them not to do this. It is a big change for producers.
Q: And we Indians don't care for change unless forced?
A: Exactly. It takes a lot of effort to bring about any change in any industry or any section of society for that matter. There will be voices of dissent wherever there is change. Even in parliament you have a vocal opposition. But don't confuse bullying with a healthy opposition. I welcome healthy debate and dissent, not these pressure tactics.
Q: Disgruntled producers have accused you of misappropriating funds and even being hand-in-glove with film piracy outfits?
A: As far as being hand-in-glove with those very elements that I've been fighting against goes, I can only laugh at these absurd attempts to discredit me. Misappropriation of funds every single penny is accounted for. There are bills for every transaction. I come from a background where I don't need to make money inappropriately.
By God's grace my career as an actor is going well. In fact, I have to give up acting offers to look after my work at the TFPC.
Q: How and why did your opponents come up with such wild allegations?
A: I will tell you what their main problem with me is. These disgruntled elements feel I will be contesting Lok Sabha elections in 2019. I don't know why that should intimidate them. All I know is, they don't want radical changes in the Tamil film industry. All along, the entertainment industry has been working in a particular way.
Anyone who tries to make it more organised, more transparent and corporate-like, more like a professional industry, is bound to be seen as a threat to the status quo. And as for contesting Lok Sabha elections, let me reiterate I am not contesting any elections in 2019 or at any time in the foreseeable future.
Q: Did you see these disgruntled elements coming at you?
A: Oh yes, they have been gathering around with their protests against me. But to go to these absurd lengths I am so glad the honourable court took immediate action. Now I am going ahead and pressing charges against those who have made these allegations against me.
Q: How do you look back on the incident?
A: Every incident good or bad is a learning experience. This incident has me stronger and wiser. I now realise that your enemies can go to any lengths. I remained calm and composed throughout the episode. It gave me a lot of reason to laugh.
They wanted me to sign papers to avoid arrest. I said if I've committed a crime I'd rather go to jail for it. Why would I go to jail for a crime I haven't committed? And why should I sign a paper to not be arrested for 'unlawful assembly' when I am trying to enter my own office? Please arrest those who tried to stop me from entering my office.
Q: What next?
A: We go on with what we were doing. We are planning a big event to honour Ilaiyaraja. We would rather focus on fruitful matters than waste time in kitchen politics. I am glad of the support I got from the entertainment industry.