While a few individual voices including that of Dravidar Kazhagam president K. Veeramani and actor Rajinikant have expressed concern over the ban on Kamal Hassan starrer Vishwaroopam, mainstream political parties in Tamil Nadu have maintained silence over the ban.
Describing Kamal Haasan as a humanist, “alternative thinker in the field of art” and a rationalist, Mr Veeramani called upon the Muslim community to heed the progressive artist’s fervent plea.
“Instead of turning emotional and organising demonstrations, both sides could sit and talk and ensure that there is no law and order problem,” he said.
Writer and theatre personality Gnani wondered how the State government could suo motu issue a ban when the Central Board for Film Certification had cleared the film for public viewing.
“When the government receives representation against a particular film, it can ask the censor board on what ground it had cleared it, because censor board itself is a quasi-judicial body. There are other ways of dealing with the film. It can approach the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and finally the judiciary,” he said.
Gnani said the government could not cite law and order situation to invoke a ban, because it was its duty to give protection when there is a threat to law and order.
He also said it was an unhealthy trend to put pressure on film producers and directors and call them for talks when the movie was cleared for release.
Writer Manushyaputhiran agreed with Gnani and said it was unacceptable to ban a film just because a few groups behaved in an “extra-constitutional manner.”
“The government has set a bad precedent. Tomorrow, another social pressure group might raise its opposition against another film or book and we will reach a situation where we cannot make a film or write a book,” he said.
“I will be the first person to campaign against the film if it had portrayed Muslims in bad light. But allow the film for public view. By its action, the government has come to a conclusion that censor boards constituted by it failed to do its job,” he said.
Documentary film maker Amshan Kumar said a few individuals could not decide whether a film was fit for public view or not.
“We should allow the film for release and generate views on it. If the film was really bad and portrayed somebody or some community in bad light, we should elicit views and even can encourage people to reject the film. But ban is not an answer,” he said.
Mr Kumar said The Birth of the Nation, a silent film made in 1915 by D.W. Griffith, was banned for its strong racist portrayals.
“If the film had been banned permanently, we would not have known why it was banned in the first place. Every time we see it, we understand its bias against the blacks and that way the film alerts us,” he said.
Mr Kumar also pointed out that the problem with Vishwaroopam stemmed from the Tamil film world’s failure to portray minorities as normal human beings. “We either portray them as docile people or go to the other extreme and picture them as terrorists. When are we going to show them as human beings?” he asked.