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Vishwaroopam ban lifted by court, but Kamal Haasan is not past finish line

Vishwaroopam ban lifted by court, but Kamal Haasan is not past finish line
Chennai Kamal Haasan's big-budget thriller 'Vishwaroopam' can finally release in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court ruled on Tuesday, rescinding a ban imposed on the movie last week by the state government.

How quickly the film can start playing in theatres depends now on their availability. The government has said it will appeal against the verdict.

In court on Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu government defended the 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 government decided to hold the Rs 95-crore film for two weeks despite a clearance given by the country's censor board. The state's Advocate General Navaneedakrishnan described that sanction 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.
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