The horse dies on the “Ponniyin Selvan” sets; Animal Care Council Seeks Investigation Based on PETA Complaint Against Mani Ratnam’s Madras Talkies

Poster by Ponniyin Selvan

A complaint has been filed against the production company Madras Talkies of Mani Ratnam by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) following reports of the death of a horse on the sets of Ponniyin Selvan, the filmmaker’s next historical film. Based on this complaint, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) requested an investigation into the horse’s death, PETA noted in a press release on Friday.

PETA India said it filed the complaint based on a whistleblower report that a horse died on the Ponniyin Selvan sets after being involved in a “head-on collision” while filming.

According to a PTI report in Hindustan times, the complaint was registered by a PETA India volunteer on August 18. It indicated that a horse had died on private land near a film studio, where the filming of Ponniyin Selvan took place on August 11.

Based on this complaint, an FIR was registered against Madras Talkies and the owner of the horse under section 11 of the PCA Act of 1960 and section 429 of the Indian Penal Code of 1860 at the Police Station of ‘Abdullapurmet in Telangana.

An official attached to the Abdullapurmet police station said PTI that a veterinarian has performed an autopsy on the horse and that a report is still awaited.

Following PETA’s complaint, AWBI ordered the Hyderabad District Collector and the Telangana State Animal Care Council to investigate the horse’s death. According to PETA, the owner of the horse allowed the directors of the film to continue using the animal while it was tired and dehydrated.

In its statement, PETA India also urged the entertainment and marketing industries to use “computer generated images, visual effects and animatronics instead of forcing live animals to perform.” The organization also announced a ransom of Rs 25,000 to anyone who could provide a video or photograph of the incident on the Ponniyin Selvan sets.

Ponniyin Selvan is jointly produced by Mani Ratnam’s Madras Talkies and Lyca Productions. The film has music by Ratnam’s regular composer AR Rahman and features a large star-studded cast. It is based on the Tamil historical novel, Ponniyin Selvan, written by Kalki (pen name of Tamil writer Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy). The five-volume novel tells the fictional story of the early days of Arulmozhivarman, who later became Emperor Chola Rajaraja Chola I.

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