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The ‘Vishwaroopam’ Ban: Attack on Freedom of Speech?
Written by Rezwan On 31 January 2013 @ 23:13 pm | 5 Comments
In Arts & Culture, Citizen Media, English, Film, Freedom of Speech, India, Law, Media & Journalism, Protest, Religion, South Asia, Weblog
Bollywood's big budget film Vishwaroopam , which is directed and co-produced by Kamal Haasan , has made headlines before its release — and for all the wrong reasons. In June 2012, the film ran into trouble with the Hindu Makkal Katchi, a Hindu political party from Tamil Nadu, who demanded that the title be changed .
Kamal Haasan's plan for the movie's simultaneous release on DTH (Direct To Home)  along with the theatrical release has also received criticism and threats  from theater owners. However the movie received most allegations from Islamic organizations including the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazagham (TMMK), who expressed concern  over the depiction of the Muslim community in the movie.
The biggest blow came on the 23 January, 2013 when the big screen release of Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam was banned by the Tamil Nadu government  for a period of 15 days. The government said that it acted to prevent a possible law and order situation. All theaters were booked in advance for the first week prior to the January 25, 2013 release of its Tamil version. Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister Jayalalithaa defended the ban .
Kamal Haasan condemned  the politics around this film saying that no rational, educated Muslim would have a problem with the film. Haasan took the matter to the Madras High Court , seeking an immediate rollback of the government ban. The ban on the film in Tamil Nadu was lifted by Madras High Court  on January 29, 2013 following a special screening, but was later upheld on January 30. The Indian film fraternity has supported Haasan  condemning the ban as an attack on freedom of speech.
Barring Tamil Nadu, the Tamil version of the film was released in India and abroad  on 25 January 2013. The Hindi version Vishwaroop is due to be released on 1 February 2013.
Here are some Twitter reactions:
manishbytes : drama continues.. Centre and TN govt lock horns. but is one of them standing for my right to watch the released movie #vishwaroopam
akashtaker001 : RT @shekharkapur: Vishwaroopam sends terrible message 2 filmmakers. Dont touch anything that could be sensitive politically culturally socially or on religion
rotalks : Also : WTF was that whole Vishwaroopam controversy about? Nothing in the film is negative unless you ARE the terrorists.Well put @mymalishka
Zara_Ahmad : My request to those watching #Vishwaroopam…enjoy it. But understand it is a fictional work and take it as just that.
dharatriv3di : RT @OQSpot: Art should be unshackled. Creativity unbridled. Support #Vishwaroopam & Kamal Haasan. He's artistic beyond compare. World needs to see this.
dhina225 : RT @prakashraaj: Actors and directors from the film fraternity have come to stand by vishwaroopam.The movement is snowballing. Lets wait together for justice
Blogger Farzana Versey  at Cross Connections points out that this saga has been a show of the fringe elements (those who can manage to find a herd and sponsors for their ideology):
The biggest mistake people make is to legitimise the FE (fringe elements). If the case is in court, how does the media discuss it? Can the filmmaker give a press conference?
The blogger questions Kamal Haasan's statement that he will leave the country:
As regards leaving the state or the country for a secular haven, that is how the fringe elements credo thinks. They use emotional blackmail. They too question secularism.
Center Right India  blog says:
What is appalling are the veiled threats issued against Kamal and his films in this Press Conference , and the pedestrian attacks . As stated in my last post , I do not approve of or agree with Kamal’s political views, some of which I truly find repulsive. But what is more important is that this boorish medieval mob cannot be allowed to tell the rest of us what we can or cannot watch at gun point. No matter what we think of Kamal or his movies, the mob does not get to dictate terms to the rest of us.
Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org
URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/31/the-vishwaroopam-controversy-attack-on-freedom-of-speech/
URLs in this post:
 Vishwaroopam: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishwaroopam
 Kamal Haasan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamal_Haasan
 the title be changed: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/title-trouble-for-kamal-haasans-viswaroopam/267664-71-180.html
 simultaneous release on DTH (Direct To Home): http://www.thehindu.com/arts/cinema/vishwaroopam-dth-release-on-february-2-kamal/article4306987.ece
 criticism and threats: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/theatre-owners-threaten-no-show-for-kamal-haasans-film-569973.html
 expressed concern: http://www.thehindu.com/arts/cinema/screening-of-kamals-film-will-affect-social-harmony-muslim-groups/article4332726.ece
 Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vishwaroopam_poster.jpg
 banned by the Tamil Nadu government: http://behindwoods.com/tamil-movies-cinema-news-10/breaking-news-vishwaroopams-release-banned--vishwaroopam-kamal-haasan-23-01-13.html
 defended the ban: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Vishwaroopam-row-Jayalalithaa-steps-in-Kamal-Haasan-thanks-her/articleshow/18280887.cms
 condemned: http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/kamal-haasan-thanks-jaya-says-will-leave-country-next-time-609171.html
 took the matter to the Madras High Court: http://www.ndtv.com/article/south/kamal-haasan-moves-court-against-vishwaroopam-ban-order-later-today-321767?pfrom=home-lateststories
 was lifted by Madras High Court: http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/kamal-haasan-if-there-is-no-secural-state-i-will-leave-the-country-vishwaroopam-foe-censorship/
 has supported Haasan: http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Mumbai/State-govt-trampling-Kamal-Haasan-s-freedom-of-expression-Mahesh-Bhatt/Article1-1004119.aspx
 Malaysia: http://entertainment.in.msn.com/southcinema/malaysia-bans-vishwaroopam
 Sri Lanka: http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/15569
 released in India and abroad: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/viswaroopam--to-release-in-usa-and-canada/317173-71-216.html
 manishbytes: http://twitter.com/manishbytes/status/297083071570780160
 akashtaker001: http://twitter.com/akashtaker001/status/297084689649397760
 rotalks: http://twitter.com/rotalks/status/297082749725069313
 Zara_Ahmad: http://twitter.com/Zara_Ahmad/status/297084655499374592
 dharatriv3di: http://twitter.com/dharatriv3di/status/297080612496474112
 dhina225: http://twitter.com/dhina225/status/297091515812020225
 Farzana Versey: http://farzana-versey.blogspot.com/2013/01/how-to-be-fringe-element-vishwaroopam.html
 Center Right India: http://centreright.in/2013/01/kamals-vishwaroopam-in-defence-of-free-expression/#.UQruth1wroI
 Press Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=u7LC3CCQGbU&NR=1
 pedestrian attacks: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=411971172222968
 last post: http://centreright.in/2013/01/the-politics-of-kamal-hassan/#.UQa2b7-siSo
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