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Updated: January 30, 2013 10:55 IST

'Vishwaroopam not certified by competent authority'

Special Correspondent
Comment (23)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Producer Chandra Haasan (right) coming out of the Madras High Court after the hearing on Vishwaroopam on Tuesday. Photo: R. Ravindran
The Hindu
Producer Chandra Haasan (right) coming out of the Madras High Court after the hearing on Vishwaroopam on Tuesday. Photo: R. Ravindran

The only Muslim in the film is the hero; he is a good man, says Kamal's counsel

Counsel for actor-director Kamal Haasan contended before the Madras High Court on Tuesday that Vishwaroopam did not even remotely deal with any Indian Muslim or the Indian Muslim community.

Arguing against the ban imposed through orders issued by the authorities in different towns and cities, senior counsel P.S. Raman said, “The only Muslim in the film is the hero [played by Kamal Haasan.] He is a good man.”

Mr. Raman said the producer did not receive a single order issued by the Collector. The communication was sent directly to theatres. He wondered as to how identical, stereotyped orders were issued by Collectors the same day. “Definitely, there should have been a directive.” The orders had grave constitutional implications. He asked whether the constitutional machinery had broken down in the State. This was nothing but pre-censorship. “What you cannot do directly, you do it indirectly.”

Film certification was covered by central legislation. Neither the State legislature nor the executive had the power to pre-censor feature films. As regards the present film, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had applied its mind and granted certification for its release. The State government had no power to nullify the Board’s decision. The Cinematograph Act did not deal with any kind of power to the State government for pre-censorship, he said.

The film was running to full houses in Kerala, which had a large Muslim population. At a distance of nearly 60 km from Chennai, on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border, people were watching it.

Referring to the losses incurred by the producer, Mr. Raman contended that Mr. Kamal Haasan had invested his lifetime earnings. The film was released all over the world, including other parts of the country. It has already come in Torrent file-sharing websites. “There was some sort of an attempt by the State government to gag the film. Theatres were not going to wait indefinitely. Let the State deposit Rs.100 crore,” he said adding “that is not going to happen.”

Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan alleged that the film was not certified by the competent authority. There was no application of mind on the film by the CBFC. Only the ‘examining committee’ had seen the film. The board could not delegate its power to any body. The certification for the film was not in accordance with law. At one stage, he said that “film certification is a very big scam.” It required an investigation.

This remark drew strong objection from Mr. Raman, who said if it were so, all films should have been banned. Why Vishwaroopam alone, he asked.

The AG said the ban was clamped because had the film been released, there were some apprehensions about what would follow. The government was examining all possible legal means to maintain public order. Art.19 (2) empowered the State government to take all appropriate action or impose restrictions in the interest of public order, decency or morality.

P. Wilson, Additional Solicitor-General of India, appearing for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the CBFC, said the State government could not impose a ban once a censor certificate was duly issued.

Counsel for the Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslims’ Social and Political Organisations R. Sankarasubbu said the entire contents of the film affected the sentiments of Muslims.

Heavy police deployment

There was heavy police deployment at important junctions on roads leading to the court complex. At every entrance to the court building, the police frisked the public and litigants. Just hours before the arguments began, the police thoroughly checked the court premises using handheld devices.

Six hours of heated arguments and counter arguments with twists and turns preceded the court decision. Stakeholders and fans too waited anxiously for the verdict.

The arguments commenced by 11.30 a.m. and ended only at 6 p.m.

Why we talk about law and order when a movie is released. If censor
board licensing the movies is in a big scam, that involves all movies,
over a period of time, not now.....our Chief ministers for the past 3
decades and more are all from Cinema industry...they are related to the
industry in one form or the other. GOD SAVE INDIA

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Jan 31, 2013 at 13:24 IST

For some reason I feel that the Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan is not
truthful. The State of TN is behind the ban possibilly the CM Jayalalitaa. Surely if the
muslims we offended to go to the movie. How come sentiments of Muslims in the
surrounding states were not rattled.? This whole thing is very fishy.

from:  Shankar
Posted on: Jan 31, 2013 at 07:57 IST

The film shows how the terrorists operate.How can it affect the sentiments of the Muslims?
There is nothing that is offending the Muslims in the movie. It is really sad that an artist has
no liberty in Tamil Nadu.

from:  K.sivasubramanian
Posted on: Jan 31, 2013 at 06:51 IST

Not sure whether Mr.R. Sankarasubbu has seen movie or not. How a
person like him make a comment " entire contents of the film affected
the sentiments of Muslims". Then how the sentiments of those Muslims
in the rest part of the world where the movie is screened, is not
affected. Why the Muslim friends in neighbour states of TamilNadu and
other countries like USA have accepted it. Are they not Muslims? Dear
Muslim Tamil Friends, some crooked intelligent people is doing this.
Unfortunately Tamil Nadu Muslims friends are the victims of these
crooked people. First tell those crooked people, that they are not
muslims. Join hands with Padamashree KamalHaasan and let us proud to
be an Indian. Jai Hind!

from:  Babu
Posted on: Jan 31, 2013 at 03:14 IST

The Govt. of Tamil Nadu's action in this regard looks like, there is a
hidden agenda other than what meets the eye. When there are burning
problems like the non availability of power, drought leading to
farmers' suicide and so on, for alleviating which the Govt. has done
precious little, is so very active on a non issue, where it has no
jurisdiction apparently. And even on the method of initiating this
action, there seems to be some unorthodox way. Instead of making a
centralised decision for the state as a whole and implementing it, the
Govt. had chosen the individual district collectors to initiate action
of banning the movie. How could some 30 administrators come to a very
similar conclusion at a precise moment and issue similar orders despite
the various situations prevailing in individual districts? It appears
to be a move aimed at diversion of the attention of the public away
from their day to day hardships faced at the hands of this Govt.

from:  Nakkeeran R
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 23:27 IST

we have to respect the law of the land,,,,,let us wait till verdict of
Division Bench,,,,,

from:  Mudgal Venkatesh
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 22:44 IST

Tamilnadu is the most secular of all the states. The Counsel for the Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslims’ Social and Political Organisations is Mr.R. Sankarasubbu. The name of the counsel is the proof.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 15:19 IST

The Muslim federation may like to vividly describe to indians at least 5 situations of dialogue, scene, portrayal where holy Islam has been wantonly denigrated and cases which hevb caused hurt of sentiment to indian muslims sso that the indians can understand the pain and strive to heal and correct themselves

from:  harihara
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 12:35 IST

The "Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslims’ Social and Political Organisations" APPARENTLY, did not bring out which (say) 5 scenes, aCtions, and dialogues DEPICTED, were denigrating/falsely portraying Islam and hurting sentiment ; Public in fairness need to know this ; the heartburn IF ANY should come out transparently so it can be quenched to peace and mutual respect restored.

from:  harihara
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 11:24 IST

All these arguments only give credence to religious hypocrisy! In a secular democracy,
freedom of expression has to be held above any other irrational sentiments! It is the duty of
the courts to protect the fundamentals of the constitution and the principles of Indian
democracy, keeping in mind the egalitarian nature of the country! One might be also mindful
of setting a precedence in cases such as this which can then become a burden.

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 09:19 IST

Both the producer and opposing groups are selfish, producer wants to make big money,
opposer wants to get political power. The powerful Third wants to settle scores with Kamal.

from:  Kris
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:50 IST

The AG's argument of censor board's competency is irresponsible. If he feels strongly, he
should know where and how to chellange that instead of blocking a movie certified by them.
This only has the political overtone and nothing to do with public safety or law and order.
Shame on the second and illegal censors!

from:  CDA
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 08:14 IST

Counsel for the Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslims’ Social and Political Organisations is R.Sankarasubbu. What more communal harmony is required! The film Vishwaroopam need not have been banned.

from:  Narasimhan Ramachandran
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 07:44 IST

It is all political. Every one is playing to their gallery. But why has any one to compensate 100
crores to some one's business venture? Who asked him to produce this movie in the first
place? Does kamal thinks he is too big an Icon to be questioned? Times are changed now. If
an actor tries to make big money out of a sensitive issue, so will be the groups who will see
this opportunity to grab more prominence. Both the producer and opposing groups have the
same identical business motives. To get rich or power. Why can't Kamal think of a movie on
so many strong themes in his own religion? He won't, he will be ruined. Now atleast he can
walk around.

from:  Kris
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 06:10 IST

Rubbish! Why do you have two different authorities doing same thing? This duality of authorisation is very confusing. If they are authorising same product, let the point of issue of approval be single point. 'CBFC' and the 'examining committee' shall not confuse artists and investors and make such irresposibe losses. There are million public institutions created by govt. every now and then for very specific purposes. This fails the coordination of the whole process of authorization and regualtion implementation. This makes all the public institutions unaccountable, irresponsible and shamfully inefficient. We have large and useless public institution infrasturcture, which are just black money making institutions for political parties.

from:  Brahmashudra
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 06:06 IST

It is very sad to note that the events have taken a political turn and Poor Kamal is left to running from pillar to post to get his movie cleared. I sincerely pray Vishwaroopam gets realesed at the earliest so that all the cinegoers will be able to watch an quality offering by Kamal Hassan. An actor of his calibre and stature's fate is left at the mercy of the authorities- SAD !

from:  PRASANNA
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 06:01 IST

There is more than meets the eye in this sordid matter. are we going to
reenact KHILAFAT MOVEMENT, On INCIDENTS CONCERNING things supposed to
happen in foreign countries.Indian minority community is no way
involved in this film. It is no denying the fact that terrorists are
misguided about their religion are deeply religious and follow all norms
prescribed by their religion. It behoves the particular community to
appeal to terrorists not to involve their political goal with religion.
banning any film is not the remedy

from:  bala
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 05:37 IST

The State Advocate General's allegation that the film was not
certified bya competent authority smacks of an approach and attitude of Revenge.The state's hasty decision to bulldoze through a ban clearly indicates non-application of mind.Having got a tiger by the tail and unable to let go,the state is attempting to bluster
its way through.It is a fit case for the producer to seek exemplary damages and compensation from the state so that such arbitrary and vengeful decisions taken out of petty petulance are not taken in future.The Additional Solicitor General of India has rightly stated that once a Censor Certificate is issued the State has no power to nullify the Censor Board's decision.The State has no business trying to usurp the powers of the Center.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 05:01 IST

very good decision by the Tamilnadu government to maintain the peace,law and order, even the many other states followed the same suite atleast to halt the movie for few more days. I think our judiciary systems are getting better now.

from:  indianman
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 04:30 IST

What a load of rubbish? Does the AG wants the President to certify the film so that his 'competent authority' needs are fulfilled? The members of the CBFC should take the AG to court for his statements.

from:  mani sandilya
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 03:49 IST

Finally justice is rendered.The ban ordered by the government is just to satisfy muslim community for getting more votes during 2014 election.

from:  V.SAMBASIVAM
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 03:29 IST

The ban on the film was in complete violation of the constitution and
all laws of the land. The TN government has blatantly and arbitrarily
imposed a ban because of incompetence or some deep rooted malice. Any
objective and neutral person can see that the film is not derogatory
toward any particular community. The arguments made by the TN
government is down right ridiculous. The TN govt needs to be severely
reprimanded for this unconstitutional ban and made to pay for any loss
uncured. We as a society should not tolerate such gross violations.

from:  Vaishnav
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 03:27 IST

This is some personal vendetta being played out in public. Why else is the Jayalalita Govt. after Kamal Hassan tooth and nail? She perhaps holds a grudge against him, whatever be the reason, as she is known to get back at her detractors at an opportune time, and perhaps Kamal is at his most vulnerable state now. The vengeance with which the Govt. is going about this ban, using some fringe Muslim bodies as a smoke screen, is a grand ridicule of the fundamental rights. I earnestly urge His Excellency the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee to dismiss the Jayalalitha Govt. and impose Article 356.

from:  srikanth ranganathan
Posted on: Jan 30, 2013 at 03:27 IST
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