Chennai: With the 'Vishwaroopam' controversy getting murkier by the day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa broke her silence on the matter on Thursday and justified the ban on the Kamal Haasan starrer.
Addressing a press conference, the CM said that it is the duty of the state to maintain law and order and the film was not allowed to be released as the government feared law and order problems given its inability – due to manpower shortage – to provide security at all the 524 theaters where the movie was scheduled to be screened.
Jayalalithaa said, “24 Muslim groups petitioned Tamil Nadu government against the film. There were apprehensions that Muslim demonstrations could turn violent. It is not possible to protect 524 theatres with the police force we have.”
Defending her stance to impose a ban on the film, the CM said, “The Government responded sensibly. We feared violence if the film was released. Should I have allowed violence and then stepped in?”
Jayalalithaa however asserted that she has got no personal grudge against Kamal Haasan or his movie.“…there is no motive; it doesn’t make sense, why should I have any grudge against Kamal Haasan. The state’s priority is to maintain law and order. This is not political vendetta. Kamal Haasan is not my rival in any way!,” she said.
Jayalalithaa rejected attempts to blame her for the monetary loss to the filmmaker. “He is nearing 60, he is a responsible adult, what he has taken is a calculative gamble. If he has taken the risk to produce a mega budget movie and pledged his property, how can the government be held responsible for that?”
“There has been a lot of hysteria around 'Vishawroopam'. Wild and reckless charges are made against the government. The media and critics have spread misconceptions about the government. Many criticised the government without a proper understanding of the situation,” said Jayalalithaa.
Jayalalithaa wondered why no hue and cry was raised when the film’s screening was banned in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where Congress and BJP governments are in power. Or even in Puducherry or Singapore, where there is substantial Muslim population.
While accepting that Kamal Haasan had asked for an opportunity to meet her, she clarified that she had found it unnecessary as the actor had already moved a write petition which was pending in court.
Prior to the Madras High court's verdict on Wednesday, the actor had held a meeting with Muslim leaders to arrive at a consensus. He has agreed to edit objectionable content from the film. But, the film couldn’t get a green signal from the High Court.
Reacting to the ban on the film, Censor Board chief Leela Samson had said, “Once we have certified the film, there is no reason to doubt the decision,” said a visibly unhappy Leela Samson to a leading news channel and added, “This is a case of hounding an artist; that too an icon of Tamil Nadu.”
Confirming that the Censor Board will take up the matter, Samson said the government’s accusation “wasn’t short of abuse” towards the Board that had certified the film: “When you call us incompetent, suggest bribery – it is inexcusable.”
Earlier, Kamal Haasan said that he would leave the country if he fails to get justice over his controversial film ‘Vishwaroopam’. Speaking to the press here, the actor apologized for causing inconvenience and wondered why at all there is a controversy regarding the film.
The Censor Board had cleared the film for its release but the Tamil Nadu government had imposed a ban on the same following protests by certain sections of the society, who alleged that the film showed Muslims in bad light. However, the Madras High Court had stayed the ban on the film Tuesday.
Addressing the media, Haasan said, “Tamil Nadu doesn't want me. Wonder how one movie could rock a nation’s unity. I shall wait for the judgment but after this I will have to seek a secular state for a house. I have pledged all what I have and if the film doesn’t release, I will end up suffering a huge loss. Even if I become shelter less, I know there are people who will help me. From Kashmir to Kerala, I have a number of homes to call my own. But despite all that, if I am left with no place to stay, then I will have no choice but to leave the country. But nothing can ever change the fact that I am an Indian.”
“My father believed in humanity above all faith and had taught me not to hurt anyone’s sentiments. I don’t follow any religion, for I too believe in humanity. But I will certainly not let anyone take me for granted,” added the veteran.