The never-ending woes of Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’

Kamal Haasan rumored to be in the United States.

R. Chandrasekaran

CHENNAI: Renowned and versatile actor-director-story writer Kamal Haasan would not have thought that his latest tri-lingual flick Vishwaroopam will attract scores of issues before the theatrical entry. The meaning for Vishwaroopam is gigantic. True to the name, the film has generated a lot of attention for a variety of reasons. The latest to hit the movie’s release in theaters is the ban imposed on it by the Tamil Nadu government, as well as the Karnataka government. The actor’s efforts to get the ban order revoked from the Madras High Court has also failed to break the ice.

The film is scheduled to be released worldwide on January 25 and the actor is said to be camping in the United States to look after the overseas release. Haasan’s Raj Kamal Film International has produced the film after the original producer exited the project midway last year. However, on January 23rd, some Muslim organizations staged protests in Tamil Nadu for allegedly portraying their community in a bad light. In Tamil Nadu alone, the film, which was made of about $17.29 million, was set to release in 500 theaters.

What had really hurt the film industry and the talented actor is that the actor had acceded to the demand of some of the Muslim organizations to screen it for them before being released. The protests took a different turn just two days before its release. Sensing a law and order problem, the state government has banned the film for 15 days on January 23rd, forcing the producers and distributors to postpone the release of the film.

Reacting to the developments, Haasan said that he will rely on law and logic to come to his support and wanted the cultural terrorism to stop. The actor has categorically denied that his latest dream project depicts Muslims in a bad light. He referred Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and termed Vishwaroopam is not in the same league. In fact, he termed, “Probably, the most Muslim friendly film I have seen in recent times.”

However, his lawyer took the matter to the court arguing that the film has been certified by the government controlled-Central Board of Film Certification. The judge heard the arguments both in favor and against the film and a decision will be taken after January 28.

In an interview, Haasan also echoed the view that the film censor board comprising members of different communities have seen the film and gave the certification. He has also said that he understands the sentiments of the people and does not want to engage in sensation through films. The actor termed the flick as a thriller.

This is not the first time that the actor faces the wrath of a select section of society for a film. The film was supposed to have been released on the eve of Tamil festival, ‘Pongal’, on January 11 but faced stiff resistance from theater owners since the actor wanted to release his film in DTH platform just 10 hours before theatrical release.

While Kamal wanted to release in DTH to prevent VCD piracy, theater owners argued that DTH release ahead of theatrical release will hurt their collections. This has dealt a deadly blow to Kamal’s original plan as he was unable to find theaters for Vishwaroopam. He had to relent to theater owners’ demand and agreed to release the movie in DTH after a few days of theater release. This has paved the way for the release of the film and once the theater owners agreed to release the film, the film was sold in quick time with distributors grabbing the film.

The shifting of the flick in Tamil Nadu has also forced the actor to postpone his Telugu version. However, it appears that the actor-turned-producer will not be able to postpone the release in overseas areas for fear of damages. This is a major worry for the theater owners and distributors as they fear that a pirated video film will ruin their collections.

True to the name of the film, it is generating lot of attention, albeit for different reasons.

 

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