Jaya explains 'Vishwaroopam' ban, Kamal thanks her

Chennai/Mumbai, Jan 31 (IANS) A day before the Hindi version of "Vishwaroopam" is set for release, actor-producer Kamal Haasan Thursday thanked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa after she explained at length why she imposed a 15-day ban on the espionage thriller.

The versatile actor told the media that although he was angry when he threatened Wednesday to quit India, he would certainly leave the country if similar protests enveloped his movies.

Kamal Haasan's brother Chandra Haasan as well as Tamil filmmaker Ameer Sultan meanwhile met Muslim leaders in Chennai, a day after Kamal Haasan promised to cut parts of the Tamil-Telugu film that critics say portray the community in poor light.

There was a ray of hope for the Rs.95 crore film's release in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa made it clear that "Vishwaroopam" was banned only due to fears of violent protests and not because of any grudge against the actor-producer Kamal Haasan.

"I have no personal grudge, no personal interest in banning the movie," the actor-turned-chief minister said, adding she knew nothing of the movie until it became controversial.

Reeling out statistics, she said it would have been impossible to provide police protection to all 524 cinemas in Tamil Nadu where the multilingual film was to be released Jan 25 after Muslims announced a wave of protests.

She said her government could have banned the movie completely but it banned it only for 15 days so that tempers could cool down and both Kamal Haasan and Muslim groups could reach an agreement.

She pointed out that it had also been also banned in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. "Was I responsible for all that?"

She said Muslim leaders had told her that they were ready to accept the film now as Kamal Haasan had agreed to delete some portions they had found objectionable on religious grounds.

"If (Muslim) leaders and Kamal Haasan work out an amicable agreement, the government will do everything possible to facilitate that ... and the deck will be cleared for screening the movie."

Kamal Haasan has written, produced and directed the movie and also features in the title role in "Vishwaroopam", which revolves around an Al Qaeda plot and an Indian couple in the US.

But the chief minister found fault with Kamal Haasan for not showing the movie early on to the Muslim critics.

In Mumbai, a visibly grateful Kamal Haasan thanked Jayalalithaa for her intervention and insisted there were no "bad Muslims" in his film that has already been released in the US and Canada.

It is also being screened in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, where it was taken off the theatres earlier. The Hindi version, "Vishwaroop", will hit the cinemas Friday.

"I have not shown bad Muslims in my film. The good Muslims in my film are Indian Muslims and the bad ones are terrorists," Kamal Haasan said.

He added: "In anger and in an emotional outburst I had said I will leave the country. But if this happens again, I will seriously leave.

"I was angry (when I spoke earlier) and I am still angry," he added.

He thanked his fans, the media and the film industry for supporting him, and said the delay in the movie's release had caused a loss of Rs.30-60 crore.

In Uttar Pradesh, however, the ruling Samajwadi Party said it won't let "Vishwaroop" to release in the state until it ceased to be controversial.

The row over "Vishwaroopam" took a political turn after Jayalalithaa threatened to sue DMK leader M. Karunanidhi for alleging that she had once written against Kamal Haasan to then chief minister M.G. Ramachandran.

In response, Karunanidhi said he stood by his charge and would present the "evidence" in court.

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