Keep Religion Out Of It, Says Actor Vishal About ‘Mersal’ Star Controversy

Chennai:  Tamil actor Vishal said today that it’s no coincidence that tax officials visited his office in Chennai after he confronted the BJP for its opposition to the movie Mersal; the party has sought the removal of references critical of the new national sales tax or GST from the super-hit which has earned more than Rs 150 crore since it was released less than a week ago.

“The timing of IT (Income Tax) department’s visit to my office is suspect,” Vishal told NDTV today, adding, “The BJP’s demand to chop Mersal dialogues is a curb on freedom of expression.”

Yesterday, officials spent nearly three hours at the 40-year-old actor’s office investigating alleged tax evasion amounting to Rs 50 lakh by his film production company. On Sunday, Vishal said H Raja, a top leader of the BJP from Tamil Nadu, was guilty of encouraging piracy because the politician said he had watched Mersal online.

Vishal, who heads major Tamil film industry associations, said, “A national leader of a national party has just confessed to watching a newly-released film not in the theatre, but illegally. Being a leader who is known by the public, how can you support piracy without any shame?”

H Raja later clarified, “I only watched a clip that was forwarded via WhatsApp and I never forwarded it”.

Mersel, starring actor Vijay in a triple role, was made for Rs 100 crore. H Raja has alleged that the actor’s “hatred” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been exposed; he has linked his claim to the fact that Vishal is a Christian and posted the actor’s voter ID card on social media to draw attention to his complete name, Joseph Vijay.

“H Raja should not bring religion into films,” said Vishal today. In a show of support, he said, “Joseph is a nice name for Vijay.”

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