New Delhi: As actor-director Kamal Haasan struggled to get his film 'Vishwaroopam', that has raised the hackles of some fringe Muslim groups, released in Tamil Nadu, former censor board chairman Anupam Kher said the government was playing "appeasement politics" and deplored the lack of freedom artistes face in India.
His comments came even as the central government promised to form a committee to look into the Cinematographic Act to make the censor board's regulatory framework more robust.
"It's completely ridiculous what's happening. I was a former censor board chairman, I think we need a censor board in India, any country has it, but it's important whether we are managing to implement all the guidelines of the board," said Kher, who was said here on Thursday to promote his upcoming film Special Chabbis along with Kajal Agarwal, Akshay Kumar and director Neeraj Pandey.
Anupam Kher deplored the lack of artistic freedom in India and said we were moving to the dark ages.
Kher, who travelled with Haasan to Los Angeles recently, said the embattled director spent the entire duration of the flight explaining to him how he conceptualized and filmed Vishwaroopam, only to get a phone call on landing in LA that the film was banned.
"I think we are going through a phase which is taking us to the dark ages. Earlier, movies were taken as movies, caste and religion had no role to play. Now 20 people are shouting slogans and the fact that establishments are listening to them only points out one thing, that it's politics of appeasement," Kher said.
He said when you gave power to some people to question your decisions about a film, "tomorrow somebody will say why is a woman wearing a certain kind of dress and this will go on." He added that the press can make a difference by writing about this issue.
"What can Kamal do? He is helpless," he said.
Actor Akshay Kumar said he faced a similar situation at the time of the release of his film 'Oh My God' that took on godmen who exploited people in the name of religion. In Khiladi 786, Akshay said people even objected to the term 'sher ka shikar' (a tiger hunting) in the song 'hookah bar' misunderstanding the phrase as the hunting of a tiger. "'How can you hunt a tiger?' people asked me. I had to explain to them, the line means your gaze is like when a tiger goes hunting,'" Akshay said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has said that Haasan's movie was banned in the state due to fears of violent protests and not because she had a grudge against the actor. The chief minister also announced that she would file cases against DMK chief M Karunanidhi and sections of the media that maligned her on the issue.
Jayalalithaa said it would have been near impossible to provide security to all the 524 cinema theatres in Tamil Nadu where the multilingual film was to be released after Muslim groups announced a string of protests.
Haasan thanked Jayalalithaa and told the media that although he was angry when he threatened to quit India, he would certainly leave the country if similar protests enveloped his movies. (With inputs from IANS)