TamilNadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said Thursday that Kamal Haasan’s movie “Vishwaroopam” was banned in Tamil Nadu fearing violent protests and not because she had a grudge against the actor.
The chief minister also announced that she would file cases against DMK chief M Karunanidhi and sections of the media that she said had maligned her on the issue.
Jayalalithaa said it would have been near impossible to provide security to all the 524 cinema theatres in Tamil Nadu where the multilingual film was to be released after Muslim groups announced a string of protests. “I have no personal grudge, no personal interest in banning the movie,” she told the media.
She said her government decided to ban it for 15 days so that tempers could cool down and “both sides could have a discussion and come to an agreement”.
She pointed out that the movie had also been banned in neighbouring states as well as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore.
The chief minister said Muslim leaders had now told her that they were ready to accept the movie after Kamal Haasan had agreed to delete portions they found objectionable on religious grounds. “If the leaders of Muslim organisations and Kamal Haasan can sit together and work out an amicable agreement, the government will do everything possible to facilitate that ... and the decks will be cleared for screening the movie.
“There is no question of curbing the freedom of speech.”
Kamal Haasan said that he doesn’t want to move the Supreme Court as of now because he hopes for a positive outcome to the controversy.
“I still have hope things may be settled with Tamil Nadu government. For now, I may wait before moving to Supreme Court.”
On Jan 30, a Madras High Court bench chaired by Justice Dharma Rao reimposed the ban on the film, overruling the lifting of an earlier ban on the film by Justice K. Venkataraman on Jan 29.
The final hearing on the case is due Feb 6.
The Rs.95 crore espionage thriller was originally scheduled to release in Tamil and Telugu on Jan 25, but a day before the screenings, the Tamil Nadu government imposed a two-week ban on the film after Muslim groups complained that some scenes in the film portrayed the community in a bad light.
Kamal described the ban as “cultural terrorism” and added: “Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film. It was designed for that purpose.”
Its Hindi version “Vishwaroop” is slated to release Friday.