On 7 June 2018, the previously blocked film “Kaala” was screened on a limited release within the southern state of Karnataka despite protests, reported BBC.
Protestors within the Karnataka region have been protesting the film’s screening and distribution due to the film’s lead, Rajinikanth, views regarding a water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where the actor currently resides. The two Indian states have been locked in a century long dispute regarding the regulation of the Cauvery River, which begins in Karnataka and runs through Tamil, and serves as a major water resource for the two communities, according to the Times of India and The Free Press Journal.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Karnataka had to increase the amount of water being released to Tamil, a decision that angered regional groups within Karnataka but that Rajinikanth has reportedly supported. The popular actor’s views on the water crisis has become even more critical to Karnataka citizens after he announced his intentions to enter Tamil’s political sphere in the near future, wrote BBC.
“Kaala” is about an ex-gangster turned Union Minister who attempts to evict a group of poor migrants from the Dharavi slum in the Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu in attempt to acquire the land they reside on.
According to Freemuse’s The State of Artistic Freedom Report 2018, India accounted for one-third of all documented cases of persecutions and threats against filmmakers, actors and actresses in 2017. Eighty-six per cent of those documented cases were related to censorship against films. Additionally, 91% of all documented violations were carried out by government authorities.