Muslim Brouhaha Over India Star’s Film


Kamal Haasan for years has been respected as one of India’s leading method film actors. A versatile artist who also can work as screenwriter, producer and director, the 58-year-old creator’s reputation has grown in his home country and beyond since he first stood before a film camera at age six.

Kamal Haasan

But Haasan’s latest spy-thriller film called Vishwaroopam-a type of Mission Impossible goes to Hindi-opened Jan. 23 worldwide…except in regions of India, including his home Tamil Nadu, one of India’s 28 states. Muslim groups in that state demanded the film be banned, claiming it “hurt religious sentiments,” according to the Hindustan Times:

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“This is politics, not religion. The ‘good’ Muslims in the film are Indians, and the ‘bad’ ones are the terrorists,” said Haasan.

Haasan has said the film has the support of many Muslims. It also has the political backing now of Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram-a former popular film star before entering politics-who has intervened. That actually kept Haasan from taking his case to the Indian Supreme Court. It also appears to have caused Haasan to have to compromise, according to The Hindu newspaper:

…Jayalalithaa on Thursday said the decks could be cleared for the screening of the movie if leaders of Muslim organisations and the actor arrived at an amicable agreement and he agreed to delete objectionable portions.

“The government of Tamil Nadu will do everything possible to facilitate such an agreement. There is no question of curbing freedom of speech,” the Chief Minister told reporters at an unscheduled press conference…

Haasan has indicated he’ll leave his native country if opposition continues. His attitude seems to result from the ban not being the first opposition to the film. Wikipedia references India news sources which say an Indian theater-owner boycott appeared possible earlier when Haasan announced a Direct-To-Home premiere of the film. Also, the Hindu Makkal Katchi party demanded the film’s name be changed from its current Sanskrit title to a purely Tamil billing.