Three film singers from Tamil Nadu who had accepted a Sri Lankan government invitation to perform for Tamils in the former warzone town of Kilinochchi pulled out Thursday after finding out the event was to be part of the ruling party’s election campaign and that Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be attending, Indian press reports said. Mano, Krish and Suchitra (eds: single names only) were “shocked” to discover this whilst at Colombo airport waiting for their special military flight to Kilinochchi, and were hurriedly returning to Tamil Nadu, where their visit had triggered controversy, the reports said.
The Sri Lankan government had invited the three, who are well known singers in Tamil Nadu’s movie industry, to give a live performance on the occasion of inauguration of a stadium in Kilinochchi.
Mano, speaking on behalf of Krish and Suchitra, later told reporters the singers had wanted to perform for the Tamils in the former warzone, and that it was only on reaching Colombo they realised that their cultural show was ruling party event for the forthcoming local government elections, and that President Rajapaksa would be attending.
Meanwhile, the singers’ planned performance had also triggered a row in Tamil Nadu, and they received phone calls from leading industry figures criticizing their involvement, he said.
“The [Sri Lankan] authorities tried to persuade us for more than three hours, but we said no,” Mano told reporters.
Some press reports said the trio were accompanied by actress Kasturi, but gave no further details.
South Indian Film Artists Association (SIFAA) President Sarath Kumar and Secretary Radha Ravi, Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI) President V C Guhanathan and film director Seeman, who is also leader of the ‘Naam Tamizhar’ movement, were amongst those who had criticized the singers, press reports said.