Tamil actor Sathyaraj on Friday expressed "wholehearted regret" over his Cauvery-dispute remarks and appealed for the smooth release of the film Baahubali: The Conclusion, directed by S.S. Rajamouli. But whether it ends the bitterness between the actor and pro-Kannada groups remains to be seen.
His statement comes following demands of an apology by pro-Kannada outfits, who have threatened to stall the release of the film in the state.
In a video released to the media, Sathyaraj read out a statement where he admitted to have made the remarks nine years ago during a protest held by the Tamil film industry against the "attack" on Tamils in Karnataka over the Cauvery dispute.
"I had spoken something nine years ago, which was viewed on Youtube now. As they have been hurt by some of the words spoken by me, I express my wholehearted regret to them (Kannada people)," said Sathyaraj.
The actor plays the role of Kattappa in the movie, slated for an all-India release on April 28, clarified that he was not "anti-Kannadigas".
"I am a small actor in the mega film 'Baahubali'. I don't want the efforts of many people to go waste. And, I have the added responsibility of ensuring that exhibitors in Karnataka, who have bought the screening rights of 'Baahubali 2', are not affected," he said.
Interestingly, the actor insisted that he would continue to voice his support for matters concerning Tamils, be it the Cauvery issue or the 'Eelam' issue in Sri Lanka.
While Sathyaraj thanked Rajamouli, film producers, professional bodies of Tamil cinema, and his well-wishers for "enduring the difficulties" caused due to him, he also had a message for future producers and filmmakers.
"Those of you who fear problems in future by casting me in your films may avoid me and thus avoid suffering losses. I take more pride in living and dying as a Tamil, without any superstition, than living and dying as an actor," he added.
Kannada activist Vatal Nagraj has convened a meeting of pro-Kannada groups on Saturday to take a call on withdrawing the state bandh announced earlier and to decide on allowing the screening of the film.
"I learnt of Sathyaraj's response and I have no objection to the screening of the film now. However, we will take a call after deliberations with Kannada activists," said Karnataka Film Chamber president Sa. Ra. Govindu.