Jayalalithaa defends Vishwaroopam ban
Chennai, Jan 31 : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday broke her silence and said she halted the release of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam in the state fearing violence based on intelligence reports and not for any grudge against the actor-filmmaker.
"We rely on intelligence inputs and it says there is likely to be trouble and violence in certain place due to such and such places. So it is for us to take preventive steps," she said.
"Our primary objective was to maintain only law and order. We have no motive to curb freedom of speech," she said, asking Kamal Haasan to reach an amicable solution with the Muslim groups.
"I have no personal grudge against anyone," she said, adding that if at all she had an adversary it is her political adversary Karunanidhi of DMK whose family made films she could have targetted instead of going for Kamal Haasan.
"If the leaders of the Muslim organizations and Kamal Haasan can sit together and work out amicably and if agrees to delete some objectional portion the decks will be cleared for release and we will do everything to facilitate it," said Jayalalithaa addressing media here.
Jaya said the movie was to release in 524 theatres and it would be impossible to offer protection, ruling out any question in curbing freedom of speech.
"Maintaining law and order does not mean allowing violence and then stepping in to quell the violence and restore peace. It is not sensible, it is not practical," she said.
"Sensible way is to prevent violence from occurring. So it is the duty of the government to take preventive action and it is only in that spirit we approached the issue," she said.
"I have been accused of personal interest," she said adding that the finger was pointed at Jaya TV but she was not in any way linked to the channel officially or financially.
She said she had no personal enmity with Kamal Haasan or had ever taken offence to the latter saying that a dhoti clad person would be the Prime Minister of India.
She said she was experienced enough to know that Kamal Haasan does not select the Prime Minister of the country but by votes of over 100 crore people.
He has taken a conscious decision to make such a big budget film and if he had mortgaged his house to do so he has done at his own risk, said Jaya.
She said Kamal Haasan had earlier refused to make any changes in the movie and forced the state government to issue an order to stop the movie for a period of 15 days.
She said she would sue Karunanidhi for the absurd charges made against her.
Jaya said the protest is not just by fringe Muslim groups but it was a pan India movement to stop the movie. She said the movie was banned even in Singapore.
Kamal Haasan on Thursday said he is not moving to the Supreme Court to get his controversial film Vishwaroopam released in Tamil Nadu after the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed the release of the film that ran into trouble over its alleged content that has been branded as anti-Muslim community.
"I am not approaching the Supreme Court," said Haasan, adding that talks are on for a settlement with the protesting Muslim groups.
Haasan would promote the film's Hindi version in Mumbai on Thursday.
Though after an emotional press conference Wednesday where he announced to leave India if required to live in a secular country, Kamal Haasan had agreed to edit out some scenes and words in the film even as the Madras High Court verdict came as a blow to him.
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.
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.
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.
Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari meanwhile has said on Thursday that the Cinematograph Act needed to be revisited, but Jayalalithaa said Tiwari does not know about the laws that exist.
"Time Cinematograph Act revisited to ensure implementational integrity certification decisions Otherwise each state would be it's own censor (sic)," Tewari tweeted.
Reacting to this, a report quoted censor board chairperson Leela Samson as saying: "If the government comes up with this, it is the best news I have heard in a long time."