Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Bully and the Bunny

On the trail of a Cannes-nominated director who posts fake reviews of his own film on the internet, then threatens legal action against those who call him on it.

Since originally writing this, the plot has only thickened. Click for updates here: update 1, update 2, update 3, update 4 (We’ve been vindicated)

Forgive us as we drop our regular flippant and satirical tone in this entry, for there is a serious matter to discuss for a change.

Chances are you are familiar with an upcoming movie called Two Thirty 7 (aka 2:37), written and directed by Murali K. Thalluri. There has been a lot of buzz about it, especially now that it has been accepted into competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The fact that Two Thirty 7 has been accepted into this most prestigious of film festivals suggests the film has some commendable qualities. Neither of us have seen it yet, and we are all too willing to judge it with an open mind. In fact, we wish Murali luck on the merit of the film itself. It’s also worth mentioning that we have never met Mr. Murali K. Thalluri in person, and he might, for all we know, be a very polite, intelligent and charming individual.

This aside, we have become increasingly repulsed by Murali’s character from what we have seen of his behaviour online. He has frequently acted in self-centered, immature and, generally, revolting ways. We have every right to express our opinion on this.

To the uninitiated, this site is a parody of the Esoteric Rabbit Blog kept by the ambitious, well–read young filmmaker, Matthew Clayfield. Generally, our guiding principle has been thus: anything Clayfield writes is fair game: Film theory, politics, pastimes. Stylistically, anything goes – from purple prose, to subtle word changes to remixed media. Clayfield is a good sport and has taken Energiser Bunny in his stride, with humour and humility.

Murali Thalluri has been a regular contributor to the comments section on Esoteric Rabbit for some time, and has consequently been thrown into the melange here. His remarks typically appear arrogant, are generally horrendously written and are ultimately redolent of an obnoxious personality even more eligible for satire than the thoughtful Clayfield (who, we should make clear, has nothing to do with this post).

Inspired by internet conversations between their real life counterparts, an amusing comedic duo was formed: Matthew Clayfoot, a sensitive aesthete plagued by occasional pretension and prolixity, matched against Murali Thallassemia, a village-idiot-type who nevertheless outdid Clayfoot at every turn. Though art might be imitating life to some degree, these conversations are, of course, clearly marked as imaginary, as they are fictional creations. Yet, they are not completely divorced from the truth.

Murali, an obsessive self-promotor, eventually caught our interest. Researching his movie on the Internet Movie Database, we discovered a number of extraordinarily suspicious entries under several different names, all written in Murali’s excruciating English, all extravagantly gushing over the brilliance of Murali and his film. In short, it appeared to us that he had written them himself.

Initially, we were willing to give Murali the benefit of the doubt. However, Googling his name revealed that this type of behaviour doesn’t appear to be new for him at all.

In late 2004, shortly before Murali began production on Two Thirty 7, he was banned from the MJJ Forum, a site that prides itself on providing ‘The Most Accurate Michael Jackson News on the Internet’. Trawling through the archives reveals that Murali appears to have engaged in an extensive history of deceit amongst this online community of Michael Jacksons fans. Murali, with the help of several user accounts, assumed multiple fraudulent identities.

He appears to have claimed to know Jackson personally, and posted false information about up-coming video clips (Footnote 1). Even more disturbingly, he appears to have pretended to be one of Jackson’s alleged child-abuse victims (Footnote 2), Jordan Chandler. At one point he even appears to have claimed that Michael Jackson was dead (Footnote 3).

The story is sordid and perversely compelling. As the members of the forum became increasingly aware that something was amiss, an entire discussion thread was established, devoted to ferreting out the impostor. Murali appears to have been caught completely red-handed. See, especially, this page of the thread, for full details of how they figured out who was fooling them.

We imagine it will be galling to these Michael Jackson fans that Mr Jackson is given a ’special thanks’ credit in Two Thirty 7.

We therefore felt our instincts were right: Murali appears to have been likely responsible for what we believe are fraudulent entries on the IMDb. We decided to integrate this into one of our Imaginary Conversations between Clayfoot and Murali Thalassemia, entitled ‘MSN: P[r]oMo: An Imaginary Conversation’ .

More than two months later, to our surprise and amusement, we received an email from Murali’s lawyers. The letter claimed that MSN: P[r]oMo defamed Murali by misleading readers into believing that Murali would post fraudulent reviews. Murali, via his lawyers, demanded that the Imaginary Conversation be removed immediately.

Murali’s aggressive, bullying attempt to undermine our First Amendment rights was all the more disquieting because of its legal baselessness.

Firstly, the Imaginary Conversation had taken place in a blatantly parodical context.

Secondly, the accusation that the real Murali is posting reviews of his film under false identities, falls far short of the standard of actual malice necessary to establish libel. The standard is, of course, a reckless disregard of the truth to the extent that there is high degree of awareness of probable falsity of or serious doubts as to the truth of the publication.

Now, we don’t know for sure that Murali has posted the fraudulent messages on the IMDb. By the same token, though, we don’t know for sure that the earth is actually round. There is compelling evidence for both propositions, and we will now outline exactly why we’ve come to believe that Murali appears to be responsible for these messages.

What follows are the top ten candidates for what we believe are fraudulent messages posted by Murali on the IMDb.

In the case that we are mistaken about any of these, we are perfectly willing to offer a full apology and retraction. We invite all of these members to contact us using the comments feature below the footnotes to confirm their true identities.

You can find the Two Thirty 7 message board on which these accounts have been posting here:

Please note, if you don’t already have one, you will need to register for a free account with the IMDb in order to access them.

#10) petes_the_man‘ has only ever posted one message on the IMDb, and it is for Two Thirty 7. He claims in his post to have auditioned for the film. He praises the script, cast and film itself, despite the fact that it has not been released. Grammar and punctuation are notably sloppy. The fact that the user account was set up in 2001, however, suggests that perhaps Murali was either unusually prescient - or not actually behind it.

#9) ‘Deb-215 registered on the IMDB on April 28 2006 and only has one post. Deb is nonetheless generous with bestowing accolades, declaring the movie to be “brilliant stuff, confronintg and hard hitting - and all by a 19 year old”. The fudged age is interesting. Murali is almost 22, after all. However, according to our logs, a Google search for “Murali K. Thalluri only 20″ led to a hit on our site from TPG (Murali’s ISP, according to his email address). So, perhaps skewing the age down is not so surprising.

#8) ‘what_ever_4_eva set up his account in July 2005, and has posted four messages, one of which is on Two Thirty 7, and two of which are on its lead actress. He claims to been yet another putative extra on the film, and his spelling and punctuation are positively Chaucerian. But without the, y’know, groovy Medieval stuff.

#7) ‘hey_zeus_freeballing is another account that has only surfaced very recently (April 26, 2006), but all his posts are directed at Two Thirty 7. His spelling may be an indication of the presence of Murali. His posts are inconsequential in their material, perhaps he is watching for something, or simply adding bulk to the discussion.

#6) ‘amadeus87987987 has had an account since February 2006 and has only posted twice, once on Two Thirty 7, once on a Gus van Sant project. The Two Thirty 7 post concerns the release date of the film in Canada - surely the kind of information Murali would be privy to, and not a member of the general public on the boards?

To explain the Gus van Sant connection: Murali appears to be a fan of van Sant’s work, and Two Thirty 7 is reportedly stylistically and thematically similar to van Sant’s Elephant. Murali allegedly met van Sant in Cannes last year. We also draw your attention to these comments of Murali’s in the Esoteric Rabbit Blog:

‘Have you seen Last Days yet? Fucking Genius! I saw it in Cannes, and then saw it again, and I’m just blown away by the genius of Mr Van Sant!’

Finally, some conjecture regarding the choice of this user name. Does Murali feel some kind of kinship with that proto-wunderkind, Wolfgang Mozart? It may explain his tendency towards underestimating his age (see #9, Deb-215). Or maybe he just saw the name at the video store and thought it sounded cool.

#5) ‘anthonyd-2 set up his account in January 2004 and has posted twice on Two Thirty 7. He claims to have worked on the film and one of his messages amounts to a casting call for extras. His writing style is as shoddy as Murali’s. However, he has an extensive posting history on a wide variety of films outside of Murali’s known interests, so this is only a tentative suggestion.

#4) ‘massimo-serena set up his account in March 2006 and has posted two messages, one of which is on Two Thirty 7. It is yet another review of this unreleased film, and is replete with grade-school-quality English, hyperbolic praise, trashing of the Australian film industry (read: Murali’s competitors) and blatant self-promot- sorry, Murali-promotion. We quote:

“i’m not normally a fan of australian films but this is somehting no one has done before. I can’t get it out of my head!!!! It sticks with you long after its finished. teresa palmer is gonna be a massive actress ( she’s in the grudge 2) and she and the rest of the cast are incredible. there were some american studio people at the screening and they were going nuts at the end of it. Supposedly they have offered murali the director a studio deal for some american movies”

#3) ‘meddie86 set up his account in April 2006, and has posted three times, all on Two Thirty 7. He claims to have worked on the film. The writing style is positively Muralian. A couple of quotes should make our case:

I’m dying to see [the film]. I had such a blast on set and Murali was such a champ!

In response to reviews of a ‘test screening’ which were written under other suspected Murali accounts:

Sounds like the reaction you guys are having to this film is exactly what Murali was going for. He’s going to be absolutely wrapped.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…

#2) ‘film-a-maniac‘ set up his account in December 2005. Since then, four of his six posts concern Two Thirty 7. The first of these consists of a reprint of an extended, sycophantic newspaper article about Murali K. Thalluri, with little explanation for the motivations behind its posting. The second post describes Joel Mackenzie, one of the film’s lead actors, as being ‘unbeleivable’. The third post is a borderline-incoherent, but overwhelmingly positive review of a ‘test screening’ of the film. Finally, the fourth post poses the question: ‘Should they be able to get away with showing a suicide scene that is so realistic in a film? I’m not too sure… What are your thoughts?

#1) ‘moviebuff49384 has had an account since September 4, 2005. Needless to say, his posts are full of Muraliesqe misspellings and overzealous punctuation. He states he has seen a test screening of Two Thirty 7. 44% of his posts deal with the movie, also lavishing praise on two of its actors Joel Mackenzie and Teresa Palmer.

Moviebuff49384 has evidently been driven to near spiritual rapture by the film:

“I really don’t know how to take it… it’s really quite spectacular, its been well over a month since I’ve seen it, and I still can’t get it out of my head.”

Can’t get it out of your head? Where have we heard this before? Why, from #4, massimo-serena of course!

The ‘buffster also writes:“I can’t wait to see how the general public take it, it’s so hard hitting.

Likewise, #9, Deb-215 wrote: “confronintg and hard hitting - and all by a 19 year old.”

Moviebuff49384 expresses his dream cast for The Time Traveller’s Wife, directed by Gus van Sant, a man we have already shown Murali to be a fan of. You may recall #6, amadeus87987987 sharing this enthusiasm for the same movie, exclaiming he “can not wait to see this film!!!” How curious.

When he isn’t heaping praise on Two Thirty 7, he’s savaging another Australian film, One Perfect Day, declaring “it didn’t deserve to be printed on celluloid”, or playing down the critically well received Somersault and its lead, “Abey Cornish”, who will “hang around till her mid thirties then dissapear?!!?!”. Who else doesn’t like Australian films? Again, see #4, massimo-serena.

The most remarkable comment made, however, is this:

“I really don’t know how to take [Two Thirty 7]… it’s really quite spectacular, its been well over a month since I’ve seen it, and I still can’t get it out of my head.

The performances are just something else, they were amazing, the camera work is fantastic, but the story in itself is just beautiful, and disturbing at the same time. “

The next bit is the absolute kicker. Murali: if you’re being ironic, it’s blunt, but effective to those of us in on the joke.

“I can’t wait to see how the general public take it it’s so hard hitting in a way you’d never expect, I almost feel like writing to the guy who wrote it, I mean I feel as though the writer had like a direct line into my head, and wrote a script from it, it’s scary!”

Scary is right. Scary as hell.


7/5/2005: A comment on our site from “sarah” seems to confirm our suspicions.

She writes:

“moviebuff49384 on IMDb is definitely Murali. He posted a thread here: and accidentally signed the first post (before it was deleted by the poster…) as “MTK”.”

This is further corroborated by the reply made by the user vergissmeinnicht38 on the Two Thirty 7 board, which shines light on some of the contents of the deleted message:

“Veeeery subtle, “MKT”. ;-)

It’s not a great leap to infer that this is probably referring to “MTK”, a transparent anagram of “MKT” (Murali Krishna Thalluri). Moviebuff49384 already had an extensive history of posting as somebody praising the writer of Two Thirty 7 in the third person. Deleting the post signed “MTK” would be a move to prevent revealing he was in fact the writer-director, Murali K. Thalluri, blowing his own horn.

Incidentally, Vergissmeinnicht is German for “forget me not”. How very appropriate!


17/5/2006: Things just keep getting stranger.

The original MJJ Forum links that implicate Murali K. Thalluri used multiple user accounts to portray several fraudulent identities seem to have been suddenly deleted. Fortunately, the Google cache remains and our links have been modified accordingly. Why were they deleted? We suspect Murali’s lawyers intervened.

In a similar vein, kateg002 left a message on the 2:37 IMDB boards, asking about “The Bully and the Bunny”, this very article, on May 10. No, she is not either of us or a plant on our behalf. We don’t know who she is. But we took great interest in this, as it would hopefully lead to further unravelling of the truth.

Yet this promising development was dashed, as days later the thread has been deleted by the administrators. What is going on? Flagged as objectionable by somebody with something to hide?

Here is the thread, before it was taken down:

kateg002: Did anybody read “the bully and the bunny” article? Too weird. Did any of you reply and do you exist? If it hadn’t happened before Cannes you think it was “sour grapes”, maybe it still is. Does anyone know anything else about it?

vergissmeinnicht38: Dude, what the hell? They quoted (and translated my name…) me?!

Hrmm, like Ain’t It Cool News has picked up on that blog article…

Nazzy19: “Just cos some idiot can spin on his head it don’t mean he’s a b-boy. Just means he is an idiot who can spin on his head”. (The Freshest Kids 2002).

Any idiot can keep a blog about whatever he/she wants. The existence of a blog doesn’t make that person’s views any more useful or relevant. It just means they are an idiot keeping a blog.

Seldom do idiots have such weight of cross-referenced evidence! We officially nominate Nazzy19 for the #11 spot on our list of Murali’s phony IMDb accounts.

Despite being visible for a week, none of the ten identities we named responded to kateg002’s question. Nobody has sought to clear their name, to identify themselves as anybody else other than Murali K. Thalluri himself. There has only been a disturbing trend of material disappearing down an Orwellian memory hole.

P.S. Cannes begins today, good luck Murali, I hope they appreciate your genius in France!



What follows is an abridged copy of the latest interesting developments on Two Thirty 7’s IMDb message board.

troy_act: [Two Thirty 7], which I have seen through my agent, is a huge rip off a short film called ‘None of the Above’ directed by Alex Goddard which was doing the festival circuit around four years ago. It use’s exactly the same suicide technique! Something, which is very original and will make you squirm!! Not just the suicide…exactly the same character plots…it’s uncanny. The short film was made in Perth and it went well over east I think. It’s ashame that this director will take the credit for all this.

I just felt like I should post this cause I think its all a bit dodgy… I’m trying to get more info on the short film, so you guys can make up your own mind!

find_wilson: um, i KNOW murali T. personally, and no, he didnt rip it off. he’s had the idea for yrs, way before the flim u mentioned.

more info on him here:

clayfootbeta: None of the Above, the film in question, was screened, apparently, four years ago. The article from the Sydney Morning Herald you’ve linked to here indicates that Murali K Thalluri was inspired to write Two Thirty 7 about three years ago. How could it be ‘way before the flim (sic) [Troy Act] mentioned’ then?

You mentioned that you know Murali personally. Are you sure you’re not actually him? Several users posting on this board, including Nazzy19 below, appear to be Murali himself.

Evidence here:

Nazzy19: *idiot posts link to own blog*

krazed_nutz: sounds like somebody’s jealous that Murali has made it and you haven’t. I’m an aspiring film-maker and I’m delighted that he’s made it. I don’t know him but I know that he nor anybody else involved in the film would like your as*hole attitude!

It is a shame that ‘krazed_nutz‘ has obviously not taken any care to read what’s been written on this site. We have gone to great pains, expending significant time and effort to precisely outline our position in order to ward off these kinds of daft and flimsy accusations that attempt to impugn our motives; opting for personal attacks while failing to challenge any of our arguments. We have tried to be scrupulously fair, despite a continuing lack of reciprocal treatment.

To be honest, we are offended by the claim that we have been motivated by jealousy. We would like to direct readers, especially ‘krazed_nutz’ and ‘Nazzy19‘ to the opening paragraph of this post, in which we point out the basis on which we have made the decision to write this piece - Murali’s dishonest and bullying behaviour.

Were this about mere jealousy, would we have made the effort to seperate the man from his deeds? Would we have congratulated Murali’s extraordinary achievement? Would we have wished him luck for Two Thirty 7 at Cannes? We have acknowledged that we do not know him personally – and hold no vendetta against him.

Were this about jealousy, where are our jealous posts about other Cannes nominees Patrick Grandperret, Oxide Pang and Rolf de Heer?

In and of itself, Murali’s demonstrated fraud on the IMDb message boards did not raise our ire. It was actually somewhat amusing, and it simply became a throwaway gag.

This gag would have been long forgotten had Murali decided to not aggravate the situation by getting his lawyers to threaten us with a lawsuit.

If that is not an abuse of the legal system and harassment of the most repugnant kind, inimical to the hard-won principles of freedom of expression sacred to democracy and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then we’re not sure what is. Murali, you should be ashamed.

And ‘krazed_nutz’ and ‘Nazzy19′ - you may call us assholes or idiots, but we’re willing to defend your right to do so. Can you say the same?

All these legal threats and dirty words are distractions from the real issue at hand. Murali has been using false accounts on the IMDb to dishonestly promote the film. Surely if you are talented enough and your film is good enough to be accepted into Cannes, you don’t need to engage in a sloppy, transparent web of lies to try to promote it. And when you get caught out, you don’t need to try to crush those who catch you into submission.



We submitted this message to the Two Thirty 7 IMDb boards in attempt to jolt this whole affair into some form of resolution. We appealed to our 11 Murali-candidates to come forward and identify themselves. We also requested the IMDb board administrators to check the IP address and ISP of these users.

The administrators have obviously heeded our request. They must have agreed with us, as they did some pruning:

moviebuff49384, our #1 candidate as a bogus account set up by Murali, has had his entire message history deleted by the adminstrators, most dramatically seen in this thread, pictured above.

#9 Deb-215’s single sycophantic message on the IMDb has been wiped.

All messages pertaining to Two Thirty 7 by #4 massimo-serena and #6 amadeus87987987 are now gone, as have certain messages by #2 film-a-maniac and #3 meddie86.

These deletions are extremely compelling evidence that Murali has abused the IMDb boards by adopting at least one false identity to deceitfully promote his film in the manner we originally described.

So, to recap:

Murali’s lawyers originally threatened us with a phony defamation claim, demanding we immediately take down material on our site that suggested Murali K. Thalluri posted fake reviews under fraudulent accounts on the IMDb.

Three weeks later, Murali’s phony reviews on the IMDb posted under fraudulent accounts have been taken down. And our material still remains.



1 (Click to return)

“I am only going to post once, and I will not reply to any messages, nor will I reply to the posts.

Firstly, if I PM someone, it is a PRIVATE message, and I expect the idea behind the concept of PRIVATE messages to be respected.

I have watched these boards for a while now. Recently I have seen a lot of threads talking about me coming forward to put forward what we all know is the truth.

The reason I used this name in regestering on a couple of these boards is to let you guys know that I hear you all. To let you guys know that Michael’s innocence means as much to me as it does to you guys. To let you know that I regret everything that happened a decade ago. To let you guys know as I said to a certain person on a different board before they so rudely posted my PRIVATE message all over the internet, that I love Michael. Michael is like the father I never had…literally.

I will speak out, but I don’t feel that the TV, Newspapers, or any other place other than the courtroom is the right place to do this.

You guys will see it as it unfolds over the coming year.

Contrary to popular beleif I no longer have contact with any of my immediate family barring my mother of course.

Hopefully by the time both Michael’s, and my life can settle down, my biological father, certain lawyers, amongst others will be behind bars.By the time this has finished playing out, you guys will be completely shocked to see what really happened a decade ago. The people involved will blow your minds. Although I don’t know any more than I read about the 2003 case, I am convinced the same players (the ones not known even to the most die hard fans) are involved.

Please have faith that I will do the right thing.

Love Jordy!”

Allegedly Murali K. Thalluri, October 3, 2004 posing as ‘Jordan Chandler’

Originally published on

2 (Click to return)

"I have official word that whatever people like Sugar Rose said, although Mike is annoyed that Xscape was released a little early, he is not ‘furious’. The original intended release date was May, but because of the release he is moving it up to Mid-Late february, just weeks after the Bashir interview. The song Xscape is not to be a theme song for the Matrix 2 as suggested on other boards. But the video of the song is a houdini style video, all the magic that Michael has been learning from Sigfried and Roy as well as David Blaine will all come into practice with the song Xscape… It is all making sense now huh? Uri Geller, David Blaine, Sigfried and Roy, and surprise surprise Chris Tucker are to star in the new short film video of Michaels. I can’t wait!!!!

Peace Out

Murali. K. Thalluri "

Cited by ‘Complexity’, Oct 3 2004

Originally published on:

3 (Click to return)


The person who posted the original message under the ID “Jordan” is posting from an Australian ISP. Tracking that down, I found that there is another poster on this board using that same ISP. His ID is: Murali.

Now Murali has posted before with many of his posts being removed for inappropriate content. For example, remember the “Michael is dead” spoof several months ago? Our friend Murali was the one to post it on MJJF. His post was outlandish. It was also removed by the mods very quickly (our Mods are fantastic!).

Interestingly enough, the posts made by Jordan and by Murali contained the same writing style and grammatical errors. In other words, they appeared to be written by the same person.

Same ISP. Same outrageous posts. Same writing style. Hmm…

Checking Murali’s email address, , I discovered that he is a poster on KOP by the ID: MikeIsInvincible.

Clicking on the profile for MikeIsInvincible, I noticed that he just happened to also be the person who copied “Jordy’s” post from MJJF to KOP. What a coincidence!

Jordan, Murali and MikeIsInvincible are all one person.

And it is my distinctive pleasure to announce…


‘Complexity’, Oct 3 2004.

No comments: