Chennai: Kamal Haasan's spy-thriller Vishwaroopam finally released in movie halls across Tamil Nadu today, with audio edited out in seven scenes.
Last week, the state government brokered a compromise between leaders of several Muslim groups who said they were offended by the portrayal of their community in the Rs 95-crore film and the beleaguered filmmaker, who was losing money every day that the film did not play in its biggest market. (Read review)
In the end, after six hours of hard negotiation, Kamal Hassan, who insists that his movie is "Muslim-friendly", agreed that audio would be removed in seven contentious scenes. He also agreed to withdraw a petition in the Madras High Court challenging the government's ban. (Pics: Chennai's big welcome for Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam)
On January 22, two days before the film was scheduled to release in 524 theatres in the state, the J Jayalalithaa government had banned Vishwaroopam, saying it feared law and order problems. The Madras High Court had upheld the ban. With the film fraternity and others up in arms against what they called a violation of the freedom of expression, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa defended the ban, but offered to facilitate talks between the Muslim groups and the actor.
Yesterday, Kamal Hassan, who has acted in, produced and directed Vishwaroopam, held two special screenings for his friends in the Tamil Nadu film industry, one, exclusively for superstar Rajinikanth, who stood steadfast by him through the ban. "I'm yet to come out of a daze, it exceeds Hollywood," said actor and DMK leader Khushbu. (Special Vishwaroopam premiere for Rajini, Khushbu says 'still in daze')
Kamal Hassan has thanked his fans for their immovable support in his difficult moment. "What brought me to an emotional pulp was the sight of many money orders, currency notes and bank cheques sent to me in envelopes," he said after decks were cleared for the film's release, referring to the donations made when he had disclosed that the ban on his movie had placed him in borderline bankruptcy. He asked his admirers not to be offended by his decision to return their money. "In case politics and religion hound me again to take refuge," he said, he will call on them.