Prohibitory orders in force for two weeks; film scheduled for release tomorrow

Hours ahead of its release, Kamal Haasan’s much-awaited Vishwaroopam was banned for two weeks in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday night.

Citing ‘law and order’ reasons, the State government took a decision to empower Collectors to invoke Section 144 of Cr.PC and restrain theatre owners from screening the movie on January 25. Commissioner of Police S. George issued an order directing theatre owners not to screen the film to ensure peace and public tranquillity. The prohibitory orders would be in force for a period of two weeks, highly placed police sources said.

The ban on screening the film came on a day the Madras High Court ruled that the State government had no power to prohibit plays or insist on prior police permission to stage them. A similar ban on The Da Vinci Code was struck down by the High Court a few years ago.

The film is scheduled to hit the screens on Friday. Tickets in many theatres across the State were sold out. The decision to ban Vishwaroopam was taken after a high-level meeting at the Secretariat here. The move also followed allegations made by some Muslim organisations that the movie portrayed their religion in poor light.

The original plan to release the film on January 11 was also hit after theatre owners objected to Kamal Haasan’s move to make it available on the Direct-to-Home platform first. “It is up to the theatre owners to decide on refund. We fear clashes between protesters and Kamal fans if the movie is released. Adequate security arrangements will be in place to prevent any untoward incident near movie halls,” a senior police official said.

Vishwaroopam is also planned for release in Telugu on January 25 and in Hindi on February 1.