New Delhi, Jan. 31: Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari today said he "did not support the manner in which" Vishwaroopam was banned by the Tamil Nadu government and advocated amendments to ensure the Centre-run censor board's writ was honoured across the country.
The minister asserted that no state should take decisions such as banning a film without consulting the Union government.
"Film certification powers are within the exclusive domain of the central government. It is, therefore, imperative that the integrity of the constitutional scheme is upheld. Therefore, a view has been taken to re-examine statutory framework to ensure the optimisation of this mandate," the minister told reporters when asked about the controversial Kamal Haasan film.
The amendments relate to the Cinematography Act. The Central Board of Film Certification, or the censor board, is under Tewari's ministry.
The Jayalalithaa government decided to ban the screening of the Rs 100-crore movie following violent protests from some Muslim groups that claimed the film shows the religion in a negative light. The spy thriller's Hindi version will release in other parts of the country, including Calcutta, tomorrow.
Tewari appeared to question the reasons cited by Tamil Nadu to clamp the restrictions. "While there might be some genuine law and order concerns in some cases, I do not support the manner in which this particular film was banned by the Tamil Nadu government. We have a censor board in place whose job is to see if a film is fit for public viewing and if some adult or inflammable portions are there, required action is taken. Hence there is no need for such a step."
The minister's statement to reporters at a news conference followed his tweet earlier in the day favouring such amendments. "Time cinematographic act revisited to ensure implementational integrity (of) certification decisions, otherwise each state would be its own censor (board)."
In Chennai, chief minister Jayalalithaa defended the ban today saying the government did not have sufficient cops to provide security at theatres.
Support poured for Haasan from Bollywood. Anupam Kher, a former censor board chief, termed the ban "ridiculous". "I have been a former Censor Board chief and we need to respect its verdict. I think we are going back to the dark ages," he tweeted.
Salman Khan echoed the view. "There are only two kinds of movies, good or bad, hit or flop…. want all my fans to fully support him (Haasan)," he tweeted. Others like Shah Rukh Khan, Arjun Rampal, Mahesh Bhatt and Karan Johar have already demanded an end to the ban.
UP release uncertain
Vishwaroopam's Hindi version will not be released in Uttar Pradesh till a panel of experts has watched and cleared it, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav suggested this evening.
"Since the film is controversial, we will take a decision (on the release) after watching it," Akhilesh said in Allahabad after being asked by about the movie. An aide of the chief minister accompanying him later clarified that a committee of experts will watch the film before it is released.