Hindu's film critic Sudhish Kamath joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on what the Vishwaroopam controversy is about.
Q. The film already got delayed much and heard that it got released in piracy also. Do you think the movie will have the grand opening which it deserves if it released tomorrow or later. Asked by: Elango B
A. Hey! I'm here. Yes, I am sure it will have a grand opening when it releases because the magic of watching movies of a big star is always about the theatre experience. First Day First Show. No matter how late. Which is why Titanic ran full houses even when it released after it was out in TV, video and every possible channel. Karnan ran for weeks. People who are serious about films and who love films wouldn't be satisfied with terrible prints in any case.
Q. What does the movie have that has triggered these problems? Asked by: Sharat
A. I haven't seen it, thanks to the ban. But no reviewer I trust has found anything even REMOTELY objectionable. My Muslim friends find this controversy silly too. When the film finally releases, the only group that will be embarrassed is the group that called for the ban.. Because they will lose face within the community for their stupidity.
Q. I have watched the Telugu version on Saturday. It's a clean film apart from one dialogue where Rahul Bose says he spent some time hiding in Old City of Hyderabad. It could have hurt few people sentiment. Asked by: Siva Mohan
A. It hurts sentiments if a terrorist tells you he once hid in your city? Why would it hurt people's sentiments? Unless he hid in their bathroom when they were showering and watched! :)
Q. Sattire as a medium has been used in all movies to paint many professions in Low levels, be it police, doctors, teaching fraternity, none has raised their voice against them. Priests have been shown in low light, again no criticism, Here, it seems it is EGO and nothing else. It could be sheer coincidence that many of the terrorist bear a particular religious tag. Asked by: S ESHWAR
A. Film is art. Even if a film was completely one sided and paints a certain community in poor light. You always have the right NOT to watch it. People watching it are smart enough to understand what is being depicted. They would know if it's one sided. They don't judge their community through the film. They judge the film through their understanding of their community. If you understand your religion in and out, there is no reason for you to feel insecure about another man's understanding of what it is. Even if he is Kamal Hassan. If you have faith, make sure it's strong. If it's strong, you know nothing can break it. No movie can. And there's so such thing as half-faith. You either have faith or not.
Q. Sudhish, as an independent film maker you know how painful it is to face such odds. What do you think is the only way out for our dear Kamal to break even on the 95 crore investment? Asked by: Srini
A. A theatrical release. As big as possible. As soon as possible.
Q. Every review from every film critic and media outlet in the world says that there is nothing against any specific religious sect. Is this not enough evidence to quell the fear that the TN Government/Madras High Court has? Asked by: Vatsan
A. Our judiciary, with all due respect, consists of some really senior, old people whose understanding of the world is very different from ours... There are very few young judges. And old fashioned judges tend to play it safe. "What if a riot breaks tomorrow, will I be called a bad judge?" is a thought that probably crossed his mind. For those who are not up to date with what the judge said today: http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/vishwaroopam-ban-hearing-deferred-to-tuesday/article4353205.ece?homepage=true
Q. Sudhish, You are close to Mr. Hassan that he co-oridnated with you during the Screen Writers Workshop at IIT Chennai. What is running on this man's mind right now? Our system is so screwed up that we, as his fans have lost hope on the Judiciary system. To how much low levels do they want film makers to stoop down? Asked by: Praveen
A. I'm pretty sure he's frustrated and angry and ashamed of the system. Not of the country. He loves the country too much. Else, by now he would have just packed his bags and gone off to the US to make films there. It's a pity he's a victim of petty politics.
Q. Is the whole controversy about this movie triggered by a possibility of the movie makers not offering a bribe to a person or an organization? Asked by: globalctzen
A. Possibly. I have heard stories of another big blockbuster resorting to paying up to stop a group from filing a case. This is not the first time a group has tried to blackmail a filmmaker.
Q. Do you think what is happening is a proxy war led by the ruling party to settle some personal score against Kamal Haasan? Asked by: Karthik
A. Not necessarily ruling party. Sometimes things, esp in politics, just escalate and snowball into something big. This was some petty fringe group that did it for attention and got it.
Q. Controversies such as Vishwaroopam will always be there in cinema as filmmakers have limited boundaries when it comes to imagination. Don't you think that like in many western countries, Indian laws should also change with times and laws such as causing hurt to sentiments of some should be done away with, except in certain cases. Asked by: Gaurav
A. Yes, once cleared by the Censors, there's no reason for Courts to intervene. It's just a movie. Go solve cases that have been pending for decades, judges. There are rape victims waiting for justice.
Q. The actor / producer has had no or very little conditional support from the Industry. Is it envy or disunity among the industry for such a situation? Asked by: sundar1950in
A. The industry did even if slowly rise to support him. Maybe they thought it would get resolved by itself. And KH has always been a rebel against the system. So they are used to him getting into trouble.
Q. Hi, Is there a genuine reason in banning the movie for 15 days ? What is the Govt going to achieve in banning it for 15 days ? What is the way forward ? Asked by: Raju
A. No. They are just playing it safe or milking it for politics.
Q. Is this going to end ? I guess now film makers should stop making films about Muslims,or Islam. I really feel sorry for Kamal sir. Whats your thoughts on this. Asked by: Prithviraj Chavan Pune
A. I doubt if Vishwaroopam was a film on Islam. But yes, it is really ridiculous.
Q. If the movie is showing a community in bad light, why did the Censor board approve this? If censor board cleared this movie and a community is opposing it, why the censor board required? If tomorrow the high court bans the movie what happens to the mans hard work? It is disrespect to a man who brings Indian cinema to international standard Asked by: Britto
A. One of the Censor members who watched the film was a Muslim. He didn't find anything objectionable about it. The film was cleared. KH also showed the film to a Muslim group. K Balachander who watched the film said that he had more respect for Islam after watching the film.
Q. Have you watched the movie? Is there anything to be worried about? If not, why don't the courts take the testimony of common man? After all every political outfits have a hidden agenda which everybody knows! Asked by: Sri
A. Unfortunately, haven't got to yet. Thanks to the ban. But there's no reason the film should be banned, going by the reviews so far. The issue has gone to court because a certain group has warned that it would lead to law and order problems. Given that there are 500 screens, the police in no way can protect a theatre without about 100 people. TN cannot afford 50,000 policemen just for a film to release.
Q. Is this all a political propaganda? Asked by: vibhor
A. Possibly. Petty politics.
Q. Sir, I live in Chennai. I was in trivandrum on a trip yesterday and watched Viswaroopam. I was thrilled in watching the movie, especially the first 15 minutes was awesome. Portrayal of Kathak Dancer by kamal and subsequent transformation was excellent. Just could not understand, what is the opposition about! Asked by: J.Thiagarajan
A. Don't worry. You are not alone. Nobody who has seen the film understands what the fuss is all about.
Q. Do you feel Kamal adopted a different marketing strategy which end of the day worked against him? Asked by: Ranjith
A. I don't think it has anything to do with the marketing strategy. Those who were going to create problems would have anyway created problems. They just knew they could armtwist him because the stakes are really high. 95 crores of his own money.
Q. Has it paved way for religious heads to showcase their publicity? First Vishwaroopam & now its aadhibagavan..Hindu group has asked production team to show them the movie first. Asked by: VMS
A. Yes. Dangerous precedent.
Q. Do you think banning Vishwaroopam is all about political move by the govt keeping in mind the vote bank of muslims? What is the benefit the muslim org protesting get from these? Asked by: Karthik Dhandapani
A. It is petty politics. But it was not government instigated. It was by a small political group that warned that there could be law and order problems. The govt has to figure out if it had the resources to protect a film. With 500 screens, you would need 50,000 policemen to protect screens around the state.
Q. When a censor board can clear a movie, how come the High Court intervenes and stops the release? Asked by: Alan Miranda
A. It's happened many times before. Unfortunate.
Q. I watched the movie in Bangalore. This is the first Indian movie, with such a complex and beautiful woven story. Are we Indian really not ready for such intellectual movie? Asked by: Shiva Kumar
A. Indians are ready. Idiots aren't.
Q. The future of Tamil Cinema looks bleak. Any social issue, will have controversies surrounding it. Banning this particular film is going to discourage film makers from taking important issues as the subject/plot-line. Should we, as audience, get ready to welcome nonsensical stories/storylines from on? Asked by: Anusha Radhakrishnan
A. Will you promise not to watch nonsensical stories? :) Nobody can. Unfortunately, we mostly get the cinema we deserve. This is just a rare exception that's not caused by the market but by external forces.
Q. Hi Sudhish, If by chance the movie is not upto the expectation, will people here in Tamil Nadu still support it as a nice movie? Asked by: Kailash
A. The debate is not whether it is a good movie or a bad movie. The debate here is about his right to make his film and show it to the people.
Q. If the film gets released in Tamil then what are chances that the Hindi version releasing on 1st Feb will not face any such objections. Asked by: Rohit
A. There are idiot groups everywhere. We can't predict behaviour of idiots. We can only hope the governments are strong enough to not let these things happen. We have a very weak govt that has given in and set a terrible precedent.
Q. Why is Tamil Cinema Association taking any action? Asked by: Praveen
A. They have all sent letters of support by now.
Q. What's your opinion on the film industry mostly remaining silent rather than supporting Kamal, sir? Asked by: Prakash
A. They've all finally spoken up but played it safe by asking him to hold talks. Why the hell should he? They were better off being silent.
Q. Do you think it is a controversy created by those who are opposed to Kamal's decision to release the film in DTH? Asked by: V Rajesh
A. No no. They stand to lose too. They had blocked their theatres for the release of the film. They've already suffered losses because the film didn't release.
Q. Hi, I think generalization is the major problem for the ban? Asked by: swathi
A. Not generalisation. Just stupidity/greed to blackmail someone who has 95 crores at stake.
Q. The Da Vinci Code faced similar ban in TN when some organisations opposed for its release, although the book was available freely. Do you think the movie industry is used by political parties to gain mileage? Asked by: Sandra
A. All the time. Prakash Jha actually hit back at three state governments and took them to court. The court directed them to pay compensation.
Q. Why can't Govt take action against people who threaten Kamal and abuse in an uncultured manner? Asked by: Rajnoj
A. We are a democracy. We are extra sensitive about minorities and that's how it should be. We can't threaten people who are raising objections. We have to give them the right to protest peacefully. We need law and order machinery to ensure that they are able to protest peacefully. But to ban the film is just spineless.
Q. We saw Kasab and other Pakistan terrorists, in Mumbai shooting down passangers LIVE in all TV channels,continuously, still we did not attack any muslims...In Vishwaroopam, Showing Afghan Taliban killing Americans,how will we turn violent...pl.answer. Asked by: SUHAAS
A. Hahaha! Good point.
Q. Why any film Groups come behind Kamal in this crisis? Asked by: Girish.K
A. Answered earlier.
Q. Is it possible for Kamal to put case on those protestors and government? Asked by: vicky
A. It's possible and he must. Prakash Jha took three state govts to court for banning Aarakshan and won!
Q. Will DTH release happen on Feb 2? Still no update at all. Asked by: vicky
A. No, DTH date will be announced once film releases.
Q. Had it been for Mr Rajinikanth, I'm sure the actors supporters would have got to the streets demanding justice. Do you think Kamal's fans have left him down? Asked by: Raj
A. No no. We don't want any further law and order problems.
Q. What does this controversy mean to the "Indian film industry" on the whole .... is the censor board relevant any more? Asked by: Mathan
A. Exactly what we have been asking every time an Ashwin Kumar film gets banned or a Prakash Jha film gets banned. The govt needs to figure out answers on what exactly are the Censors for if anyone has the right to Censor.
Q. If the ban was motivated by a small political group, then how did they have the reach to stop the screening in Malaysia? I think a bigger hand is at play here? Asked by: Harish Raju
A. Politics works in strange ways. Sometimes, the smallest issues snowball... butterfly effect!
Q. The Hindi version was to be released on 1st Feb..now what are the chanses that it will be released in Hndi on 1st Feb. Asked by: Rohit
A. Yes, it would have scared off many theatre chains from scheduling the film. Ultimately, the producer would decide if he's going ahead with Hindi soon.
Q. Is the state politics behind the ban? Asked by: NANA
A. Answered earlier.
Q. What is the box office collection of the film in rest of th world? Is there change he recovering 95Crs by overeas release only? Asked by: Naveen
A. LOL! Not possible to recover through international release alone. Unfortunately. It's a Tamil film. Tamilnadu is its primary market. It needs to make at least 50 per cent here. And the other 50 through other languages and territories.
Q. If the court verdict comes in favor of Kamal Haasan tomorrow, can he claim damages for the 3-day weekend loss that he had incurred? If so, who's liable then? Asked by: Venkatesh Gopal
A. He can, in fact do it. He can take this to the Supreme Court. And chances are that they will side by him. They did rule in favour of Prakash Jha. There is a precedent for this.
Q. How you rate this Vishwaroopam movie? Asked by: vinod
A. Exactly. How can I rate it? Once I get to watch it. Ask the Court to release it no? :) Was nice chatting with you all! We're out of time. Have answered questions on a first come first served basis. Cheers!