Kamal Haasan threatens to move to 'secular state abroad'

Chennai, Jan 30 (IANS) Citing the late M.F. Husain, actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan Wednesday said he could be forced to look for a secular state overseas and even change his passport if the final verdict on his film "Vishwaroopam" was not in his favour.

Stating that he was "fed up", Kamal said at a press conference: "If there is no secular state in India, I would go overseas. I think Tamil Nadu wants me out. What would change is my passport; I would still be an Indian. I have pledged all my property for the film. I have lost my house because of delay in release."

"Going by what is happening with me, I'm very likely to seek a secular state or country to release my film, on which I've invested my lifetime's savings, including all my assets," Haasan said.

"If by becoming a secular man like M.F. Husain, I can peacefully continue making films, then so be it," an anguished Kamal told reporters, referring to the late artist who died in a London hospital in June 2011 after being forced to leave the country following threats by right-wing activists upset with his paintings of Indian goddesses.

"I have lost all my property for the film, so I have nothing to lose, but choose now. If the judgment is not favourable for me, I have to look out for a secular state abroad. We will get away from this place but will have lot of good memories," the 58-year-old told reporters at a press conference here.

He said he was still trying to understand why "some members with strong political backing" were against his film. "The film is running successfully in other states and the feedback from the audience has also been positive."

The Rs.95 crore espionage thriller, which stars Kamal and is written, produced and directed by him, was banned by the state government after some Muslim groups complained that the film portrayed their community in bad light.

On Jan 29, the Madras High Court bench chaired by Justice K. Venkataraman passed an interim order in favour of the film and kept the 144 orders issued by district collector in abeyance. He said the film can be released without any cuts or edits all over the country.

Muslim groups that had protested against the film have said they hope the government will appeal again, if needed in the Supreme Court.

Kamal said he cannot release the film in the state until he gets the physical order from the Madras High Court.

"We are waiting for the final verdict and the physical copy of the orders from the honourable judge and until then we can't release the film."

"The fact is that I have yet to get interim relief as some of my friends have reported in press. The film shows are stopped again and the police have sent away fans, asking for court order copy. I have been thrashed in a political game, monetary loss is not important," he said.

Despite the lifting of the ban, most theatres still haven't opened bookings for the film.

"Even though the ban is lifted, we're waiting for an official confirmation to open the bookings for the film," a representative of a leading multiplex here told IANS.

The film was originally scheduled to release Jan 25 in Tamil and Telugu, but was only released in a few places in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It was banned in these places as well after the first show on the release day.

It was also banned in places such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka after two days of run in the cinemas.

Besides Kamal, who plays the title role, "Vishwaroopam" also features Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur and Jaideep Ahlawat. The Hindi version "Vishwaroop" is slated to release Feb 1.

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