Kamal Haasan's Rs 95-crore thriller 'Vishwaroopam' is not yet playing in theatres in Tamil Nadu today, despite the Madras High Court rescinding a ban on the film in an interim order on Tuesday.
The actor's daughter Shruti Haasan tweeted that the film would be released across Tamil Nadu today, but prints are yet to reach theatres and theatre owners are meeting today to study the court order and take a call on screening the film. (Special Feature: How Kamal Haasan fought 'cultural terrorism')
The Tamil Nadu government has, meanwhile, swiftly appealed against the court order and a division bench of the high court will hear that petition this afternoon. In court on Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu government defended the two-week ban it ordered just days before the film's scheduled release, citing the need to protect communal harmony after Muslim groups accused the film of portraying the community negatively.
The state's Advocate General Navaneedakrishnan described the clearance given to the film by the country's censor board as "a scam" and said it appeared to have been granted "without application of the mind".
Kamal Haasan's lawyer argued that the ban is unconstitutional, which was seconded unequivocally by Leela Samson, who heads the Central Board for Film Certification. "It is absolutely unacceptable. We have certified hundreds and thousands of films...only with Vishwaroopam, you find it has not been done with due diligence? This is an infringement on freedom of expression," she said.
Before going to court, Kamal Haasan, who stars in the film which he has also directed and produced, described the government's intervention as "cultural terrorism" and said Vishwaroopam is "one of the most Muslim-friendly films in recent times."
The judge hearing the case had reviewed the film over the weekend.
The controversy engulfing the film had spilled over to neighbouring states, with protests being held outside cinemas where it was showing. In Karnataka, the film was released today; cinema owners said the police had offered protection, if needed.