Modi party under fire for demanding cuts in Tamil-language film

Above, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, addresses a gathering of Bhartiya Janta Party supporters during Gujarat Gaurav Mahasamellan on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on October 16. The BJP’s demands for a cut to the film incited anger on social media. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Modi party under fire for demanding cuts in Tamil-language film

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party came under fire on Saturday for demanding cuts to an Indian film, claiming it showcased “anti-Modi hatred.”
A scene in the Tamil-language film “Mersal” shows a character delivering a fiery monologue in which he attacks the government’s failure to provide free public health care despite charging a national goods and services tax (GST) of up to 28 percent.
“People are paying seven percent GST in Singapore and receiving free medical care. The Indian government is taking 28 percent GST from people. Why can’t the government provide free medical care?,” says the character, played by south Indian star Vijay, who goes by one name.
The scene sparked an uproar among members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who have called for it to be deleted from the film.
H. Raja, the BJP’s national secretary, said the film showcased “Vijay’s anti-Modi hatred” as he countered the claims made in the movie.
“It’s a lie that medical treatment is free in Singapore,” he tweeted Friday.
The BJP’s demands for a cut to the film incited anger on social media, where hashtags #Mersal and #MersalvsModi were trending Saturday after many users accused the party of curbing freedom of expression.
Political rivals also attacked the Hindu nationalist party’s censorious demands.
“Mr. Modi, cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don’t try to demon-etise Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal,” Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the opposition Congress party, tweeted Saturday referring to the government’s controversial cash ban, the so-called demonetization, imposed last year.
The GST, which came into effect on July 1, was designed to replace a web of state and national levies and transform India’s $2 trillion economy into a single market for the first time.
But critics have said the tax’s complex structure — four main rates ranging from five to 28 percent — has confused businesses, hurt sales and pulled the brakes on the growth of Asia’s third-largest economy.
“Mersal” released on Wednesday to record earnings and has been running to packed theaters.


Turkish photographer Ara Guler, the Eye of Istanbul, dead at 90

Updated 18 October 2018
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Turkish photographer Ara Guler, the Eye of Istanbul, dead at 90

  • Ara Guler died of heart and respiratory failure late Wednesday
  • Guler, from Turkey’s minority Armenian community, was born in Istanbul in 1928

ISTANBUL: Ara Guler, an acclaimed Turkish journalist and photographer known as “the Eye of Istanbul” for his iconic black-and-white pictures of the city and its residents, has died. He was 90.
The Florence Nightingale Hospital in Istanbul said that Guler died of heart and respiratory failure late Wednesday.
Guler, from Turkey’s minority Armenian community, was born in Istanbul in 1928. In a career that spanned several decades, he worked for Magnum Photos, Paris Match and Germany’s Stern among other organizations, interviewing and photographing politicians and artists, including Winston Churchill, Dali and Picasso.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Guler “one of the greatest names in the art of photography raised by Turkey.”
Erdogan said that “great artists continue to live through works they leave behind.”
His funeral was planned for Saturday.