Screening of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu has been
deferred again with the Madras High Court today setting aside a single judge's
order giving the green signal for the release even as the actor agreed to delete
certain scenes considered offensive by Muslim outfits.
The relief given to the actor by Justice K Venkataraman late last night was
short-lived as a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Elipe Dharma Rao
and Aruna Jagadeesan quashed it, effectively stalling its release today.
The actor now plans to move an appeal in the Supreme Court against the High
The single judge had granted interim stay of operation of the ban order imposed
by the state government prohibiting the film's release across the state after
protests by Muslim outfits, who claimed that it showed them in negative light.
The court order came on an appeal by the government against the interim order of
the single judge.
During the hearing today, Advocate General A Navaneethakrishnan said the
single judge had passed the order without taking into account the fact that the
petition (of Kamal Haasan) was not maintainable in law.
The AG also said the judge has not considered the 'important aspect' that the
order passed under Sec 144 cannot be assailed by the petitioner as it was done
after elaborate and detailed consideration for maintaining public order,
preserving public peace, public safety and communal harmony.
The film, which was initially in trouble due to Haasan's tussle with theatre
owners, was slated to release on January 25.
A report from Ramanathapuram said a masked gang hurled petrol bombs and pelted
stones at two theatres, damaging glass panes and furniture, while Haasan's fans
staged protests at Erode and Theni outside theatres, demanding that the movie be
In Delhi, Information and Broadcasting Miniter Manish Tewari said the High Court
should consider the matter "holistically".
The AG told the court that the single judge had not considered the 'prospective
implications' that would affect public peace, public order, public safety and
tranquility consequent to release of the film.
He also said the Judge had 'not at all considered' the fact that several
countries like Singapore, Sri Lanka, UAE, and Malaysia have temporarily banned
screening of the film, as it was likely to hurt sentiments of certain sections
of society and cause communal disharmony.
'I will have to seek a secular state'
Even as the judicial proceedings were on today, Haasan said the issue had been
"amicably resolved" during his talks with some Muslim leaders, after
he agreed to delete "certain scenes and words" relating to the Holy
"The film is not anti-Indian Muslims and it is pro-Indian Muslims. There is
no difference between me and my Muslim brothers," the actor, who spent
nearly Rs 100 crore on the multilingual spy thriller, said.
Upset over the hurdles caused by the ban on the release of the movie, Haasan, in
an emotional outburst, said Tamil Nadu does not want him to stay in the state
and he will have to seek a "secular" place in the country or overseas.
"When M F Hussain can do it, Kamal Haasan will do it... I am fed up. I am an artiste. After that, I will have to seek a secular state for my stay... Secular state from Kashmir to Kerala, excluding Tamil Nadu... Tamil Nadu wants me out," he said in a choked voice.
The actor said he had pledged all his property to make the trilingual movie, estimated to have cost around Rs 100
crore. He said he might lose his house because of the losses incurred by the delay in the release of the movie.
Haasan said he was still to get interim relief as the film shows were "started and stopped" by police today, who sought a physical copy of the single judge's order passed last night, giving clearance of the film.
"...But I believe that along with my Muslim friends, I have been instrument in a political game. I don't know who is playing and not even hazarding the guess. The fact remains that my history has proven that I have been neither leaning to the left or right but trying to maintain my position," Haasan said.
This was before the judgement of the Madras High Court where the Tamil Nadu government today moved swiftly to file an appeal against the interim relief given by the single judge.
"Now I shall wait for the afternoon judgement but after this... I think I will have to see a secular state for me to stay in. I have nothing to lose. I might as well choose a place which would house an artiste like me.
"I will learn in another couple of days whether I will be able to find a secular state in India or not. I will find, hopefully, another country which is secular that might take me in," Haasan said.
Clad in a black shirt, Haasan addressed reporters at his office, which was once the house where he grew up.
Making a jocular remark at the title 'Universal Hero' that precedes his name in film title-cards, he said his brother
Chandrahaasan, 18 years elder to him, had suggested he could go anywhere in the world, referring to his intentions of leaving Tamil Nadu.
On pledging all his property to make the movie, the national award winning actor said this was nothing new for him as he had bounced back from similar situations twice before.
"And I am sure that even if I may not have a house to stay in, I would still have homes to feed me," he said in an apparent reference to his fans.
Holding that the court had placed priority on law and order against an individual's economic issues, he said he was "even prepared to lose my entire property" for peace.
He said he was particular that Muslims are given a fair space in his monitored welfare movement.
"I don't understand these things, and if I do, I would become a politician," he said.
Reacting to the controversy surrounding the film, Leela Samson, chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, said that it was "unjustified".
"This puts the entire film industry and the artistic creative spirit of Indian people under a strain. How will people express themselves freely? And he
(Haasan) is not irresponsible. I have seen a lot of irresponsible film but this is not one. So I think it is absolutely unjustified," Samson said.