Chennai: The release of Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam, mired in a controversy over its premiere, has been stopped by the Tamil Nadu government over accusations that the movie is anti-Muslim.
The state government banned the screening of the spy thriller, which was to have been released on 25 January, citing a threat to law and order following protests by Muslim organizations. The ban was issued late on Wednesday.
M.H. Jawahirullah, member of the legislative assembly (MLA) and president of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, told reporters in Chennai that the movie “targets Muslims and their beliefs”.
The organizations sought a ban, saying the film will affect social harmony in the state.
“The community would not accept such portrayal even if certain scenes are deleted,” said Mohammed Haneefa, coordinator of the Federation of Islamic Movements and Political Parties. “The film with (even) deleted scenes or changes will affect the social harmony and all-round peace in the state.”
The move came after Haasan, who has produced, directed and starred in the movie, held a special show for members of the community and rejected the contention that his film was anti-Muslim.
A group of about 20 Muslim organizations submitted a memorandum on the issue to Tamil Nadu home secretary R. Rajagopal, a day after taking up the matter with the city police.
The film’s Hindi version, Vishwaroop, is to be released on 1 February. Both the versions are set to be released on the direct-to-home (DTH) platform on 2 February.
Haasan had to scrap his original plan to release the movie first on DTH on 10 January, followed by the theatrical premiere a day later. Boycott threats by exhibitors forced the change in plan.
Haasan had tied up with six DTH companies—Tata Sky, DishTV, Sun Direct, Airtel DTH, Videocon DTH and Reliance Big TV—for the previous premiere plan.
Officials said the state government has asked district collectors to invoke necessary legal provisions to maintain law and order.
Haasan has repeatedly said that Muslims have not been shown in an objectionable manner in the film, but the clarification has failed to convince the various groupings. They made similar accusations against Haasan regarding earlier films made by him such as Hey Ram and Unnai Pol Oruvan, the latter being a remake of Hindi film, A Wednesday.