Actor Kamal Hassan’s latest offering “ Vishwaroopam” saw the light of day on Friday, thanks to screens in neighbouring Kerala, showing the film, despite a Madras High Court ban on its screening.
Actor Rajnikanth also came out in support of his colleague, urging Muslim organisations to stop demanding a ban on the film.
Scores of Kamal’s fans, who had booked tickets at a premium in multiplexes and single screens across Tamil Nadu had to queue up for getting refunds, while many of them in Coimbatore went to Palghat and other nearby towns in Kerala to watch the film’s Tamil version on Day one, industry sources said.
“Vishwaroopam”, released in Singapore late on Thursday, triggered fears that pirated DVDs might already be finding their way into the state, they said. Posters against the film appeared in various parts of Chennai saying “Vishwaroopam will not be shown anywhere in Tamil Nadu”.
Fans travelled as far as even Kannur and some of Tamil Nadu’s western districts, the sources said. “The demand to ban the film is more political than on any objective assessment of its merits,” a film industry watcher in Chennai told Deccan Herald.
Superstar Rajnikanth openly supported the multi-lingual thriller, appealing to all the Muslim organisations to give up their demand for banning the film. In a statement issued in Chennai, Rajnikant said, he was “saddened” by the developments and controversy surrounding “Vishwaroopam” in the last week or so, particularly as he knew Kamal Hassan for 40 years as a dear friend who “would never hurt anyone or their sensibilities”.
Appealing to the Muslim community representatives to “sit and discuss the issues further” with the actor, Rajnikant said the former could suggest changes without affecting the storyline.
Rajnikant pointed out that the very fact the Kamal Hassan held a special screening of “Vishwaroopam” for the Muslim groups at his residence, showed his respect for their sentiments. “I am concerned about the hardship that Kamal underwent in investing about Rs 100 crore in this film,” Rajnikant said.
In Kerala, the film ran to packed houses in 86 cinemas amid protest at some centres by some religious outfits demanding a ban on the film. Enthused by the overwhelming response of the audience, the film will be exhibited in more theatres in the coming days, office-bearers of cinema hall owners organisations told Deccan Herald.
In Hyderabad, the police moved to stop the release of the film on a day coinciding with Milad-un-Nabi. According to Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy, the police commissioners of Hyderabad and Cyberabad approached her to allow them to stop the screening the movie to avoid disturbances.