Kamal film fate rests on show for judge

Chennai, Jan. 24: A high court judge has said he would decide the fate of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam after watching the movie on Saturday.

Justice K. Venkatraman, who today heard arguments by the actor's lawyer challenging the Tamil Nadu government's 15-day ban on the movie, said he would pass a ruling on Monday after viewing the movie along with representatives of Muslim organisations.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned the film following protests from minority groups that claimed it was "totally anti-Islam".

The net effect of the order is that while Tamil Nadu will wait till Monday to know if it can watch the Tamil version of the film, the Telugu and Hindi versions will be released in Andhra Pradesh and the rest of India without any restrictions.

Today, Kamal Haasan's lawyer argued that when the censor board had certified the film, no other authority could ban it, a logic underlined by Union information minister Manish Tewari in Delhi.

The state government's lawyer justified the ban saying the film might cause a law and order problem. Kamal Haasan, who is in Los Angeles, said in a statement that he was a victim of "cultural terrorism" and "icon bashing".

"I am not only hurt by these accusations of denigrating a community but my sensibilities are truly insulted. I have been ruthlessly used as a vehicle by small groups who seek political profile," he said.

Kamal Haasan may also have paid a price for an "inappropriate" political statement he had made about finance minister P. Chidambaram. The actor had participated in a December 30 event where a book on Chidambaram was released by DMK leader M. Karunanidhi.

One of the speakers said that Tamil Nadu looked forward to the day the country would have a dhoti-clad Prime Minister. The reference was to Chidambaram. Kamal Haasan said it was his desire too that Chidambaram should attain greater heights.

"So when the actor ran into trouble with Muslim groups, he received no help from the most powerful person in the state," a close associate said, referring to chief minister Jayalalithaa, a political opponent of Chidambaram.

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