The ban on actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus Vishwaroopam threatened to spread from Tamil Nadu to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka on Friday, even while it ran in several screens in the smaller towns of Kerala.
In Kerala, screening was stopped in several centres in the evening following protests. In Hyderabad, the morning screenings were not disturbed, but subsequent shows were interrupted. In Karnataka, distributors said the release had been put off until Sunday.
Authorities in Hyderabad hinted that the movie might be allowed to release on Saturday. The reasons given for the postponement vary from ensuring safety during the Milad un-Nabi celebrations to security arrangements for the Republic Day.
Theatre owners from three states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh — who had already sold tickets to the movie via advance bookings — started refunding the tickets to the audience.
At the global level, the film opened in a record number of theatres in the United States and Malaysia, even while authorities in Sri Lanka ordered that the release be held back and called for a review by censors.
The first flush of reviews and opinions on social networks — most notably in Twitter where the movie has been trending over the past few days — has been overwhelmingly positive, and the popular opinion seems to be that the movie does not denigrate any religious minority. The star’s fans were left agitated, and they argued especially in online forums, on how they had been robbed of the opportunity to watch the ‘first day, first show’ of a film that has already been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification.
The national award-winning actor, who is currently in the U.S. where the Hindi and the Tamil versions premiered, found a major supporter in the Tamil film industry in ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth, who appealed to his “Muslim brothers” to drop their demand for a complete ban on the movie, and instead hold talks with Mr. Haasan upon his return from the U.S., and find out an amicable way to release the movie.