If you are a Tamil film fan over 30 years of age, chances are you are a Kamal Haasan or a Rajinikanth fan, or maybe both. Chances are that you probably grew up feeding on the movies of these two icons, often taking sides, arguing yet appreciating their contributions. And chances are very high, especially if you are residing in Tamil Nadu, that are you feeling quite grumpy now.
As fans from world over, and even neighbouring States, took Twitter by storm on Friday to pronounce their less-than-140-character-long verdicts on Vishwaroopam, fans in Tamil Nadu were left wondering what the fuss was all about and also had reasons to be angry on why they were robbed of the delight of catching the movie “first-day, first-show”.
It might sound flippant but to legions of fans of the iconic stars in Tamil film industry, it has been a ritual to make at times even make extraordinary arrangements to see their favourite star’s movies on the first day or the release, or at the very least within the first weekend. With the ban on Vishwaroopam by the State Government, and with the Madras High Court order on it expected on January 28, even by the best case scenario, most fans will be able to catch the movie only Monday afternoon – assuming that the order is delivered in the morning session.
“Absolutely nothing,” was how A.Manikandan, an IT employee from Hyderabad, reacted when asked if he found anything that could be construed to be hurtful of sentiments of any religious groups. “It is a typical Kamal Haasan movie that we have watched over years. Technically it is better but in terms of content, his movies have always had some dialogues on rationalism and atheism. But that apart there is nothing hurtful.” Vishwaroopam ran for a few shows in some screens in Hyderabad on Friday.
By evening, several reviews came up online, on media websites and personal blogs, that near unanimously said that the contents of the movie cannot be seen as denigrating any community.
Film archivist ‘Film News’ Anandhan said he was unable to recall an instance where the movie of such an iconic star struggled to release. “There are other kinds of problems that usually crop up … legal problems with people claiming the story of the movie to be theirs or the censors asking the producers to change objectionable names. But this seems very unique.”
The postponement of the screening of the movie and the continuing lack of clarity on when it would release has create a logistical nightmare of sorts for theatres that had already started the advance reservations for the movie from January 25 to January 30. Most theatres finalise the shows in their screens for a Friday-to-Thursday run on Tuesday night. All the theatres have started refunding the tickets – by cash if bought at the counters or via online transactions if the tickets were purchased through portals. The online transactions usually take around six to seven days to refund.
Even if Vishwaroopam gets court clearance for release, it is unlikely that it would get as many screens next weekend as it would have on this one because two big films – Mani Ratnam directed ‘Kadal’ and Bijoy Nambiar directed Jiiva-Vikram starrer ‘David’ – are slated for a February 1 release.