Ahead of the debut release of Ponniyin Selvan, the film has garnered controversy over its description of the island of Lanka, with the Hindi translation referring to the land as a Sinhala country.
The film is based on a historical fiction novel under the same name, by Kalki Krishnamurthy, set during the Chola dynasty. Throughout the novel, Krishnamurthy referred to the island of Lanka as Eela Naadu. However, the Tamil trailer for the movie refers to the island as Illankai or Lanka.
Responding to the controversy, Tamil activists have written to Lyca Productions, which is behind the film, to request that all references to Sri Lanka as a Sinhala country be immediately removed. They describe the translation as “false, misleading and extremely serious”.
— K Ratnajothy (@RatnajothyK) September 24, 2022
The controversy comes as there is continued alarm over the dominance of Sinhala nationalism in Sri Lanka. In Sinhala Buddhist mythology, Tamils are presented as a constant threat source of alleged invasions that destroyed the island’s once pristine Buddhist civilization.
The film’s director, Mani Ratnam, has also faced criticism in the past for his peddling of Sinhala nationalism in films such as Kannathil Muthamittal and of harbouring pro- Hindutva ideals. In a 2012 biographic book, written by Baradwaj Rangan, Ratnam further caused outrage in his description of Tamils in Sri Lanka as a ‘group of outsiders’ whose entry into the country created turmoil.
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