Tovino-starrer's massive church set vandalised in Kerala for its location near temple, 1 arrested

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Miscreants vandalised the sets of Tovino Thomas-starrer 'Minnal Murali' at Kalady in Ernakulam on May 24, alleging it hurt religious sentiments. Police on Monday arrested a leader of a fringe right wing outfit in connection with the vandalism which drew a sharp reaction from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

An activist of the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal also put up a post on Facebook, claiming the film set of a church in front of a temple had hurt religious sentiments. The post also had pictures of the vandalised set.

"When this was built, we told them not to do so. Complaints were lodged. We do not plead. We decided to remove it. Accolades for all those who participated in this and for the Ernakulam unit president Malayattoor Ratheesh,” the activist said in the Facebook post.

Ratheesh was arrested and charged under various sections of the IPC, including 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

"We have registered a case. A Special Investigation Team has been constituted," Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police K Karthik told reporters. He asserted that all the culprits involved in the incident would be arrested soon.

Pinarayi furious

"Such an act should not have happened in our state," Pinarayi told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram in response to a query.

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Referring to incidents of targeting film sets and crew of movies in other parts of the country, allegedly by certain 'communal elements' as part of implementing their communal agenda, the chief minister said, "This was not accepted by the people of this country."

"Everyone knows why such a set was created. Kerala is not a place for such communal elements to indulge in vandalism. Strong action will be taken against this act," Pinarayi said.

Expressing anguish over the attack, actor Tovino Thomas, who is starring in the film, said the "contractual set" of the film "Minnal Murali" was destroyed by a group of "racialists".

"A producer had spent lakhs of rupees while a production designer and hundreds of workers worked hard to make this set for ‘Minnal Murali’ in March. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the shoot got delayed. The state of that set looks like this now. The reason for this is more shocking," actor Aju Varghese reacted in a Facebook post.

“This is a time when we should stand united but something really bad has happened amid the tough time. Never expected such a thing that too in Kerala,” said Basil Joseph, the director of the film.

The multi-lingual, Minnal Murali, is being bankrolled by Sophia Paul under the banner Weekend Blockbusters.

Sophia too took to Facebook and shared her disappointment over the incident.

The major portion of the movie had been shot and the next schedule was planned at Kalady. The masive set of a church was erected to shoot the climax.

“Unfortunately due to the pandemic we couldn’t resume the shoot. The set at Kalady was planned and built for one of our most important scenes. All required permissions to build the set at the location was taken. Today’s incident is so unfortunate and a colossal loss,” she wrote.

Shaan Rahman is the music composer while Vishnu Sharma wields the camera. Arun and Justin have penned the screenplay.

Hollywood stunt coordinator Vlad Rimburg was roped in to choreograph the stunts for this film.

Left cultural organisation "Purogamana Kala Sahithya Sangham" and Kalady Shivratri Aghosha Samiti, a committee associated with the temple, also condemned the incident.

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