If the Kerala government hands over to Malayalam filmstar Mohanlal the camera with which his first shot was taken, it will set a bad precedent and invite more pleas seeking release of state memorabilia, politicians and film veterans said Saturday.
The controversy began at a function Friday after Mohanlal, speaking out of turn, urged Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to give him the old camera in lieu of a new one.
Also present was the actor's friend and Minister for Cinema K.B. Ganesh Kumar.
"I have made this request before too to previous governments that I wish to take possession of the camera which took my first shot in cinema 35 years ago. That camera is with Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC). I want the government to allow me to take that and in return I will give a brand new camera," Mohanlal told Chandy.
Chandy responded favourably to the plea during his speech and said he respected Mohanlal's attachment to the camera.
"I'll discuss this with Ganesh Kumar and if KSFDC is going to get a new camera out this, it's not a bad idea," he said.
Interestingly, "Thiranottam", the film for which Mohanlal's first shot was taken with that camera, was never released.
On hearing about the plea, M.A. Baby, a CPI-M leader and former state culture minister, said Saturday that no such request had come to him from Mohanlal when he was in office.
"This (to give away the camera) is for the state government to decide and I do not want to comment. Moreover, this particular camera that Mohanlal is asking for might have filmed others too. What will happen if they also come forward with this request?" he told IANS.
Renji Panicker, a veteran filmmaker, writer and editor of a Malayalam daily, told IANS that it would be better if the camera remained in public domain, giving millions of Mohanlal fans the chance to see it.
"If this is going to stay in the showcase of Mohanlal, it will become a showpiece for a few. Hence it is best if the camera is put up for the public. It will be a greater tribute to the great actor," said Panicker, who wrote and produced Mohanlal's blockbuster film "Praja".
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