The uproar against the Tamil Nadu government’s temporary ban on the screening of Vishwaroopam has been magnified by the media in the name of freedom of expression. When the government was approached by some Muslim groups asking for a ban on the film that depicts the entire community in a bad light, it was the state’s duty to protect the interests of the community, even if it is in a minority. Those arguing against the ban say actor Kamal Haasan has invested crores of rupees in the film. The Centre, after spending thousands of crores, had to abandon the Sethu canal project because it hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. When Dam 999 was banned fearing unrest in Tamil Nadu, there was no such resistance. Why are the minorities described as fringe groups and the entire community blamed when they raise genuine objections?
A. Mohamed Aslam, Madurai
In this communication age, 24x7 TV channels and social media are turning into powerful tools. They can even bring about revolutions, as was evident from their role in Arab Spring. Movies like Tare Zameen Par and Rang de Basanti had a great impact on society. TZP triggered a debate on the parenting style in India and RDB appealed to the youth of India to participate in nation-building.
Young India is learning a lot from the media. Stereotyping of a community can plant prejudices in impressionable minds. These prejudices will come to the fore at the slightest provocation or even in the absence of it. I am a great believer in the freedom of speech and expression but I also believe it comes with responsibilities.
Ehtesham Waquarib, Giridih
When innocent Muslims across the world are suffering because of Islamophobia, intellectuals like Kamal Haasan should have avoided making a film connecting Islam and Muslims to terrorism. Leaders of Muslim organisations in India have been continuously issuing statements against terrorism. But they are hardly published. Innocent Muslims are denied houses on rent, suspected for acts they do not commit and rot in jail for years. That said, all people, including Muslims, hope Kamal Haasan will resolve the issue soon.
Mohamed Ibrahim, Chennai
As a Muslim not backing any group protesting the release of Vishwaroopam, it is my duty to express my views. The movie cannot portray Muslims in a bad light. Director K. Balachander made films with themes involving the Brahmin community but I don’t remember Brahmins protesting. This shows their maturity. Cinema is not a teaching or preaching medium that brings about changes overnight. My humble request is: let us not make this issue a debate in the media and confuse those who watch films.
M. Nazir, Thanjavur
The Tamil Nadu government has actually made Vishwaroopam famous and given it tremendous publicity. Those protesting against the release of the film should understand that films are not real. This is perhaps the first time that a group of Muslims (not all Muslim leaders) in the State has interfered with the release of a film.
Ubaidu Rahman, Dindigul
Many television soaps show negative characters which certainly belong to some caste, creed or religion. Everybody understands that the intention is to show negativity, which has no religion or caste. Those raising a hue and cry over Vishwaroopam should ponder over this.
Rachna Pal, Sonebhadra
I think the hullaballoo over the banning of Vishwaroopam is unnecessary. But, then, the forbidden fruit is the sweetest. The ban will arouse enough curiosity and make the movie an instant hit when it hits the cinemas.
But there is another side to the issue. The ban undermines the authority of the censor board. I am now confused as to who is competent to decide the worthiness of a movie — the Centre, the State government, courts, political parties or the public at large?
M. Mustafa, Visakhapatnam