Court stays release of Haasan's Vishwarooopam
Chennai, Jan 30 : The Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed the release of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam, a film that ran into trouble over its alleged content that has been branded as anti-Muslim community.
The film will not release in Tamil Nadu till Feb 6 after the stay order since the bench set aside the interim order by a single bench judge of the same court a day ago, apparently paving its release.
The Madras High Court on late Tuesday had lifted the ban on Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu. The verdict was passed by Justice K Venkataraman after a day-long hearing on Tuesday.
But the Tamil Nadu government appealed against the verdict in a double bench, defending the ban in order to maintain "communal harmony".
According to reports, the judge, who saw the film over the weekend earlier, had asked Hassan to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement with the government.
Reports said Kamal Haasan has agreed to delete some scenes and words in reach an out of court settlement with the groups protesting its release.
Kamal Haasan earlier on Wednesday said he would leave Tamil Nadu and India if required to stay in a secular place to just remain an artist who is godless.
"I want to stay in a secular state. I will find another state other than Tamil Nadu from Kashmir to Kerala to stay. If I do not find I will stay in another country which is secular," he said in an emotional press conference here, adding that he has mortgaged his entire property to the financier of the film and would lose it all.
"I want to be a secular man. I want to stay where these things do not touch me," he said. "M F Hussain-saab [late painter] had to go out of India for the same reason. I am just an artist. I am godless. I am fed up," he said.
"I shall wait for the afternoon judgement [a verdict in his favour has been challenged again in a higher bench of Madras High Court] but after this I think I will have to seek for a secular state to stay in from Kashmir to Kerala excluding Tamil Nadu. I will look for a place which would house an artist, I will pay for it. I know my art is still left and I can earn."
He said he will hopefully find another country which is secular to stay if he cannot find a place in India. "Nothing will change the fact that I am a Tamil and an Indian. Only my passport will change," he said.
"I wonder how one movie could knock this mighty nation's unity," he said.
He said nothing was clear to him why these things were happening to him and said the fact is that he was yet to get interim relief or order and film shows were stopped again.
"I believe that along with my Muslim friends I have been an instrument in a political game. I do not know who is playing it and I am not even hazarding a guess. The fact remains that my history has proven that I have been never leaning to the left or right," he said.
India's Censor Board chief Leela Samson said Kamal Haasan is being hounded since the film has been cleared by the board and only then it was set for release.
Actor Farooq Sheikh said Kamal Haasan must sue the government for damages since they had cleared the film through Censor Board first and then stopped its release.
"The judge in a previous report said one man's money is not more important than the unity of the nation and I agree," said Haasan. He said he has bequeathed all his property to the person who put his money on the film.
Haasan on Thursday had moved the Madras High Court and filed a petition after the Tamil Nadu government banned the screening Vishwaroopam for 15 days. The court, on the same day, ruled that the movie could not be release till at least Monday.
The Rs 95-crore movie was supposed to be released on Friday before running into opposition by groups protesting its "anti-Muslim content" and was banned by the government.
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth came out in support of Haasan and urged Muslim groups in Tamil Nadu to help him release Vishwaroopam.
"I am very upset about the developments in the Vishwaroopam issue. I have known Kamal for 40 years now. I know Kamal would not hurt anyone. From the very fact he showed the movie to Islamic community says he respects them," Rajinikanth said in a statement.
The Tamil superstar urged Muslim 'friends' to "sit with Haasan and discuss the issue and allow its release without affecting its storyline".
The state government banned the film after Muslim groups objected to its screening after a special screening for them.
The film was not screened in other south Indian cities such as Hyderabad and Bangalore on Friday.
Vishwaroopam is written, directed and co-produced by Haasan that features him in the lead role.
The film also has Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose, Andrea Jeremiah and Jaideep Ahlawat in supporting roles.
The film was shot in many locations, including largely in USA, while sets resembling Afghanistan were constructed in Chennai.