Jan 30, 2013 at 02:45pm IST

I'll look for another country if I don't find a secular place in India: Haasan

Chennai: Actor Kamal Haasan on Wednesday made an emotional pitch ahead of the Madras High Court's final decision on the release of his film 'Vishwaroopam'. Questioning the religious tolerance in Tamil Nadu and India, Haasan said, "I think Tamil Nadu wants me out. I will wait for a secular place to live in from Kashmir to Kerala leaving Tamil Nadu."

Citing artist MF Husain's example, Haasan said, "If I do not find a secular place in India, I will have to look for another country. MF Husain had to do it, now Haasan will have to do it."

ALSO SEE Tamil Nadu govt challenges HC order lifting the ban on 'Vishwaroopam'

Expressing anger on the delay of Vishwaroopam's release, Haasan said he is not satisfied with the reasons that he has been given for the ban of the film in Tamil Nadu. "There are various reasons given to me as to why this is happening, none of them makes sense to me. The fact is I still need to get any relief," Haasan said.

Haasan said he felt he has been the victim of a political game and added, "I will not blame anyone, I will leave it to you to decide."

Defending his film, Haasan said, "I am speaking to make my fans peaceful. My fans include many Muslims and they do not find anything objectionable in the film."

The actor said he had pledged all his property to make the trilingual movie, estimated to have cost around Rs 100 crore. He said he might lose his house because of the losses incurred by the delay in the release of the movie. Haasan said he was still to get interim relief as the film shows were "started and stopped" by police today, who sought a physical copy of the single judge's order passed on Tuesday night, giving clearance of the film.

"...But I believe that along with my Muslim friends, I have been instrument in a political game. I don't know who is playing and not even hazarding the guess. The fact remains that my history has proven that I have been neither leaning to the left or right but trying to maintain my position," Haasan said.

Meanwhile, the industry stood by Haasan. Leela Samson, head of the national censor board, said she was shocked and intended to take it up formally. "This is hounding of an artist. A man who is an icon of Tamil Nadu. We are sensitive to issues. The group objecting to Vishwaroopam have the freedom not to view it. We will object to the language used by the lawyer representing the Tamil Nadu govt against the censor board," she added.

Senior journalist N Ram said "It's an insult to injury especially since he (Haasan) made absolutely clear what his values are. Put yourself in his shoes and you would say the same thing he's saying. It's unprecedented what someone of his stature is facing."

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt has called it a 'terrorism of the state'. "We are facing a really dark phase. I don't think we have faced such oppressive forces. Every now and then we hear some film is in controversy. A man of this stature who has made a name for himself, if he is saying something like this, you can imagine what he must be going through and we will be mute spectators," he said.

This came after the the Tamil Nadu government challenged the Madras High Court's order of lifting the stay on Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam'.

The film was banned in the state on the insistence of some Muslim organisations which felt that it depicted the community in poor light. But Kamal Haasan got a late night relief from the Madras High Court on Tuesday after the court decided to put in abeyance the prohibitory orders issued by the Tamil Nadu government to delay the film's release. However, the order has now been challenged by the state government.

Big questions:

- Is the Tamil Nadu government hounding Kamal Haasan?

- Is the Jayalithaa government forcing Kamal Haasan to leave India?

- Is religious objection just an excuse used by Tamil Nadu govt to pressure Kamal Haasan?

- Will the Indian film industry rise as one and support Kamal Haasan?

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