Chennai/Hyderabad, Jan 26 : Actor-filmaker Kamal Haasan's controversial film ‘Vishwaroopam', facing a two-week ban in Tamil Nadu amid protests by Muslim community, was released in Kerala today but its screening was stopped by police in Hyderabad over security concerns.
As per the initial reports, the film was screened in 86 theatres in Kerala, where about 25 per cent of the population comprise Muslims.
“It is mainly screening in B-class theatres run by KCEA. But, some theatres run by the Federation also screened it today,” V Mohanan, President, Kerala Cine Exhibitors
Association (KCEA) said in Thiruvanthapuram.
He said Haasan's home production Rajkamal Films International was releasing the movie directly in Kerala.
In Hyderabad, the police moved to stop the release of the film on a day coinciding with Milad-un-Nabi.
According to Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy, police commissioners of Hyderabad and Cyberabad approached her to allow them to stop the screening the movie to avoid disturbances.
“Yesterday some religious leaders approached me to stop the screening of the movie expressing apprehensions. There is no ban from government side. City police commissioners have requested me to postpone the movie screening by a day in the city,” Reddy told PTI in Hyderabad.
Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari batted for Haasan over the ban issue. The Minister said he did not want to say much since the matter was sub-judice but said the larger question is whether a state has the right to ban a film once it has been cleared by Censor Board.
“The right to clear films for screening is something which exclusively rests with the Central Government,” Tewari said. Haasan, 58, yesterday moved the Madras High Court seeking an interim injunction against the 15-day ban imposed on the film by the TN government.
The court will decide on the matter by January 28 after watching the film on January 26. The actor, who is currently in Los Angeles, said he had faith in the Indian judicial system.
In Karnataka, the release of the film has been deferred to January 27. The sole distributor of the film in Karnataka, Gangaraju claimed that the postponement is in pursuance to the request of state police not to release the film today and tomorrow in view of “Milad-un-Nabi” and Republic Day as “it could disrupt communal harmony and lead to a law and order problem”.
“However, the film will be released in 25 theatres across the state including 15 in Bangalore city on January 27”, he told PTI. Gangaraju said money had been refunded to those who had booked tickets for the film in advance for today and tomorrow in five theatres in Bangalore.
Meanwhile, disappointed with the non-release of the film, some fans of the veteran actor carried banners and shouted slogans in two theatres in the city. The protest was peaceful, police said.
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth came out in support of Haasan, urging the Muslim community to end the impasse through talks. “Kamal is not an ordinary artiste. He is a great artiste who had taken Tamil cinema to the global level.
I request my Muslim brothers to factor in this and change their stand of demanding for a complete ban,” Rajinikanth said in a statement in Chennai. “I still believe in the judicial system of India and I hope justice won't be delayed any further and I will get it.
Cultural terrorism has been happening in India for quite some time now and we call it cultural terrorism because there are no arms and ammunitions involved,” Haasan said.
Haasan, who has directed, produced and acted in the mega budget, multilingual film, has been facing hurdles in its release from the very beginning.
Earlier, he was involved in a tussle with Tamil Nadu film distributors and theatre owners, who refused to screen the movie in theatres over Haasan's decision to premiere it on the DTH platform first.
Besides Rajinikanth, others from the film fraternity also spoke out in support of Haasan, opposing the imposed ban on the film.
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who has made his acting debut with a special appearance in ‘Vishwaroopam', tweeted, “I stand up for Kamal Haasan's right to show the world Vishwaroopam and let the people decide, especially after Censor Board has passed the film. You?”
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap posted on Twitter, “How Can anyone decide what the film is about without seeing it? and how can the government pander to such groups?
#Vishwaroopam (sic)” Director Madhur Bhandarkar too spoke in support of Haasan, tweeting, “I'm appalled by the TN Government's decision to ban Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam. After the film has passed by the Censor Board. Not done!!!”