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Friday, 25 January 2013

Vishwaroopam Ban Kamal Haasan Speaks about it Releasing date Theatres Preview Story Photos

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‘Vishwaroopam’ screening stopped in Hyderabad
CHENNAI: Many theatres in Bangalore and Hyderabad cancelled morning and noon shows of Kamal Haasan movie 'Vishwaroopam' on Friday after authorities requested them to help avoid law and order problems on a day when Muslims celebrate the Milad-un-Nabi festival.

Representatives of Rajkamal Films said that talks were on with police and theatre owners to arrive at a time to screen the movie in both the cities.

"It will release either in the late afternoon or evening slot," said an official. Around 90 screens in Kerala screened the movie in the morning though some shows were disrupted in places like Palakkad.

The cancelled shows will add to the problems of the film, which has not been released in Tamil Nadu due to a state government decision.

Collectors of all districts in the state had asked theatres to not screen the movie after various Muslim organisations, including the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam and the Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamaat, objected to the portrayal of Muslims in the film.

After the producer filed a writ petition, the Madras high court put off the release till January 28. It will also review the content to check whether it contains offensive references. 
Vishwaroopam: A riveting spy thriller
We were one of the few to have watched an early screening of Vishwaroopam in its entirety before talks of the ban emerged in Hyderabad. In content and technical finesse, the film breaks new ground for regional cinema. In these troubled times, it must be emphasised that the film does not hurt sentiments of any community.
Everyone here has a double role to play, Andrea Jeremiah tells Pooja Kumar at a crucial juncture in the film. Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam is a technically brilliant, ambitious film where most characters are not what they seem. The actor-director deals with an international espionage drama through a layered screenplay, trusting the intelligence of his audience to connect the different threads of the story.

Vishwanath (Kamal Haasan) is a Kathak teacher who lives with his wife Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), a nuclear oncologist, in New York. Nirupama confides it’s a marriage of convenience that provided her a safe shelter while she pursued her Ph.D in the U.S. The age gap between them notwithstanding, she is put off by Vishwanath’s effeminate traits. She smells something fishy about her husband and hires a private investigator to trail his every move.
In a sudden turn of events, the investigator gets killed by a member of a terrorist outfit. A visiting card on his purse gives away the names of Vishwanath and Nirupama and the terror group nabs the couple. The outfit operates from a warehouse and is headed by Omar (Rahul Bose), severely injured from the past.
Vishwaroopam Ban Kamal Haasan Speaks about it Releasing date Theatres Preview Story Photos
Omar and Vishwanath have a past, one that takes the story back by almost a decade, to the Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. What follows is a maze of events that go back and forth in time, unravelling an international spy thriller that keeps you guessing for most parts.
Nirupama is stunned to discover the true identity of her husband, his uncle (a cameo by Shekar Kapur) and the young dancer (Andrea Jeremiah) at her husband’s dance school. Together, they try to counter the plans of Omar and his group that could destroy New York.
Vishwaroopam is engaging, keeps you engrossed and as you try to make a semblance of the puzzle, several questions arise. Kamal Haasan sets up an interesting premise for part 2.

Sanu Varghese’s spectacular cinematography becomes as important as the actors in this thriller. The camera takes us into the dangerous alleys of New York and the muddy, rugged terrain of Afghanistan. In the opening sequence involving pigeons, Varghese captures the mood of the birds giving us a hint of an ominous force at work.
The songs composed by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy gel with the narrative of the film and the trio experiments with different genres to offset the mood in Afghanistan.
Pooja Kumar is expressive and convincing as a young woman coming to terms with her husband’s identity all of a sudden. Andrea Jeramiah has a smaller role and according to the makers, she has a crucial role in Vishwaroopam 2. Rahul Bose is menacing, with his tarnished look and damaged voice making him appear more evil.
Kamal Haasan morphs from identity to the other with ease, like he’s done several times in the past. He draws chuckles with his effeminate gestures and delivers an understated performance in the Afghan segment.
It’s a film that needs to be watched closely to follow the different aspects of the story. The graphic violence in some sequences make it unfit for viewing by children.
Vishwaroopam Ban Kamal Haasan Speaks about it Releasing date Theatres Preview Photos
Vishwaroopam Movie

Vishwaroopam is a good watch for a discerning movie lover.

Cast: Kamal Haasan, Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Rahul Bose and Shekar Kapur
Direction: Kamal Haasan
Music: Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy
Plot: A couple and their friends try to save New York from a terrorist threat.
Bottomline: A gripping spy thriller of international standards

‘Vishwaroopam’ released in over 80 theatres in Kerala

Actor-director Kamal Haasan’s controversial movie Vishwaroopam, facing a two-week-ban in Tamil Nadu due to its alleged anti-Muslim content, was released in more than 80 theatres in Kerala on Friday.
The multi-lingual film was mainly released in B-class theatres under Kerala Cine Exhibitors Association (KCEA).
It was also screened in multiplexes and some theatres run by the Kerala Film Exhibitor’s Federation (KFEF), which had declined to exhibit the movie following Mr. Haasan’s decision to premier Vishwaroopam on DTH format, industry sources said.
As per the initial report, the film has been screened in 86 theatres in the State, where about 25 per cent of the population comprises Muslims.
“It is mainly screening in B-class theatres run by KCEA.
But, some theatres run by the Federation also screened it today,” V. Mohanan, President, KCEA, told PTI.
He said Mr. Haasan’s home production Rajkamal Films International was releasing the movie directly in Kerala.
KCEA, which runs more than 230 movie houses in the State, would explore possibilities to expand the screening of the movie to more theatres in the coming days, he said.
Two-week ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ in Tamil Nadu.
Vishwaroopam Ban Kamal Haasan Speaks about it Releasing date Preview Story Photos
Kamal Haasan
Hours ahead of its release, Kamal Haasan’s much-awaited Vishwaroopam was banned for two weeks in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday night.
Citing ‘law and order’ reasons, the State government took a decision to empower Collectors to invoke Section 144 of Cr.PC and restrain theatre owners from screening the movie on January 25. Commissioner of Police S. George issued an order directing theatre owners not to screen the film to ensure peace and public tranquillity. The prohibitory orders would be in force for a period of two weeks, highly placed police sources said.
The ban on screening the film came on a day the Madras High Court ruled that the State government had no power to prohibit plays or insist on prior police permission to stage them. A similar ban on The Da Vinci Code was struck down by the High Court a few years ago.
The film is scheduled to hit the screens on Friday. Tickets in many theatres across the State were sold out. The decision to ban Vishwaroopam was taken after a high-level meeting at the Secretariat here. The move also followed allegations made by some Muslim organisations that the movie portrayed their religion in poor light.

The original plan to release the film on January 11 was also hit after theatre owners objected to Kamal Haasan’s move to make it available on the Direct-to-Home platform first. “It is up to the theatre owners to decide on refund. We fear clashes between protesters and Kamal fans if the movie is released. Adequate security arrangements will be in place to prevent any untoward incident near movie halls,” a senior police official said.
What the ban on Kamal’s Vishwaroopam really means

The ban on Kamal Hassan’s magnum opusVishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu evokes two emotions: sadness and anxiety.
Sadness, for a gifted and hardworking film-maker such as Kamal Hassan for landing himself in such a mess, and anxiety, for the fall in the threshold of intolerance to artistic expression in a state that has been different from the rest of the country.
We haven’t seen the movie yet, and hence cannot comment on the way Kamal Hassan has depicted Muslims or symbols of Islam. However, several Muslim organisations in the state, notably the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), which have seen the movie, say that it “targets Muslims and their beliefs”.

Even with some scenes deleted, Vishwaroopam will affect the social-harmony and peace in the state, M H Jawahirullah, MLA and TMMK leader has reportedly said. Supporters of the TMMK and other organisations have also staged a protest against Vishwaroopam in front of Kamal Hassan’s office, where they burned the posters of the movie and shoe-slapped his images.
This has certainly landed the actor-director in big trouble, perhaps the biggest in his career of more than five decades. He has reportedly sunk about Rs 95 crore on the movie in the hope to get into the rare 100-crore box office club.
A ban in Tamil Nadu will ruin his finances. The film was scheduled to release tomorrow in about 500 theatres and unlike in Bollywood and other languages, Tamil movies recoup their investment mostly from theatrical release.
Vishwaroopam Ban Kamal Haasan Speaks about Releasing date Theatres Preview Story Photos
Kamal's Vishwaroopam

After the long lull following the 1998 Coimbatore blasts, this consolidation and hardline stand by Muslim organisations is a recent trend in Tamil Nadu and is certainly a reason for anxiety. It appeared to have erupted from nowhere in September 2012 in Chennai when the US consulate on the city’s busy arterial Anna Salai was attacked by a group of 2000 people. The protest was organised by TMMK against an anti-Islam film by an American that had outraged Muslims all over the world.
Reportedly, the bulletproof glass cabin of the visa section, CCTV and sunshades of the US consulate building were damaged while some protestors had even managed to scale its walls. The mob also pelted stones. The brazen attack had forced the consulate to close down its office for a few days.
The city was shocked to see a high security and strategic installation being attacked in broad daylight by a mob and wondered how such a large group of protestors had managed to evade the police and gather in front of the building. The failure of the police, especially the intelligence wing, to check the movement of people towards the building, let alone the subsequent attacks, is still a mystery. The story ended with the police arresting some TMMK workers.
In a month, the TMMK and its allies were outraged again. This time they trained their guns on leading actor Vijay’s blockbuster Thuppakki. The leaders and protestors said that some scenes of the movie, which was running to full houses by then, hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
The production team of Thuppakki immediately swung into negotiations with the protestors and acceded to their demands. The producer of the movie, the director and actor Vijay’s father met with 10 representatives of TMMK and 20-odd organisations and agreed to delete some scenes. There were also some unconfirmed reports that some dialogues were even added to make them happy. Vijay’s father even went a step ahead and promised that the actor would depict a Muslim character in a future film.

The latest target is Vishwaroopam and the resistance seems to be really tough.
These three incidences, in the space of a year, indicates that the TMMK and its allies are bolder and more assertive. Is it purely a sequence of reactions to a sequence of objectionable events, that seemed to have naturally occurred in a short span of time; or does it indicate a trend of political and religious assertion?
Although it has been in existence since 1995, till recently, the TMMK had been a non-political oragnisation with allegations of hardline posturing against them. Some of its members and leaders had been arrested following the 1998 Coimbatore blasts while another organisation, Al Umma was banned. There were also allegations that it was controlled by the former members of SIMI, which was banned by the NDA government in 2002. The TMMK had in fact asked the UPA government in 2005 to lift the ban.
Since 2009, the TMMK has a political front, the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, and it was an ally of the ruling AIADMK in the 2011 assembly elections. The party had contested in three seats and won two. Coincidentally, the new form of public assertion of dissent and intolerance also began in 2012.
In terms of the response of the state government, this is only the third time that the state is banning a movie, that too a mainstream Tamil movie by a top-shot such as Kamal Hassan. The first was Oru Oru Gramathile way back in 1987 (here is an interesting reconstruction of the events published in New York Times), the second, the Da Vinci Code in 2006, and the third, Dam 999 in 2011.
The ban on the Da Vinci Code was lifted later while Dam 999, which reportedly favoured Kerala on the Mullaperiyar issue, sank at the box office.
Is the ban on Vishwaroopam a political strategy not to alienate Muslim voters, however small they are, ahead of the 2014 elections? Has the government given in to the protestors too easily?
Given that that film industry is an integral part of the social and economic life of the state, couldn’t there have been a middle path?
Wouldn’t this ban lead to an eruption of demands of caste and communal organisations? Or is it purely because of the fear of communal disharmony, particularly after the audacious September demonstration by TMMK and its allies last year?
Some might say that Vijay’s Thuppakki (apparently there are some similar events in both the films) got away easily thanks to political intervention — since he was close to the AIADMK and opposed to DMK, due to which he had really struggled during the previous government’s period — whereas Kamal Hassan is stranded, perhaps due to inadequate political patronage.
Will things change in the next two weeks? Will the industry back him?
One view is that it’s time that the Muslim stereotype in Indian movies ended. As many,including Bollywood director Kabir Khan noted, in 1992, it was Tamil director Mani Ratnam’sRoja that led to several movies “depicting the Muslim in his aatankwaadi stereotype.” Since then, the stereotype has been free of copyright for anybody.
But a censor board is there simply for that. If the censor board has passed it, India’s citizens need to respect that – whatever their religion might be.
Unfortunately, Kamal Hassan has been caught on the wrong foot, first with his DTH-obsession and now with this ban. Even if he is able to ultimately wriggle out, the ban will be too costly for him. Past experiences in the film industry show that delayed releases are in effect denied releases.

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