Chennai: Facing criticism for the delay in the release of Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam' in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa came out strongly, defending her government's decision to ban the film. Jaya said that she had no option but to ban the movie as law and order was her top priority.
"This film was proposed to be released in 524 theatres in Tamil Nadu, various Muslim organisations submitted a memorandum to the government, they had demanded the ban on the movie. These Muslim organisations also announced various demonstrations, there was every apprehension that this could turn violent," Jayalalithaa said.
Justifying the ban on Vishwaroopam, Jayalalithaa questioned, "The only way to maintain law and order was to provide police protection to all 524 theatres. I want to know if this was practically, physically possible. If the strength of the Tamil Nadu police would have been put on these theatres, what would we do about their regular duties?"
Hitting out at the critics accusing her of having personal grudges against Kamal Haasan, Jayalalithaa said, "I have been accused of having personal grudge against Kamal Hasaan on his remarks at an event about a 'dhoti clad to become the PM'. I am experienced enough to know that Mr Kamal Hasaan doesn't select the PM." Jayalalithaa added, "These are ridiculous pieces of fiction and most absurd charges in the media."
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also threatened legal action against DMK chief Karunanidhi and some sections of the media for accusing her of having business interests in banning Vishwaroopam. "I have been accused of having a personal motive, one motive is said to be business motive. It's a wild reckless charge against a constitutional authority. Since Karunanidhi has made a charge, we will take a legal view against him and media," Jayalalithaa said.
Pointing out the Tamil Nadu Cinema Regulation Act, Jayalalithaa said that the state government had all the power to ban a movie. "It is a total misconception that the state cannot ban movies. I could have banned the movie straight away, we did not do that. I haven't banned the movie. We wanted tempers to cool down, so that both sides come to an agreement," she said.
Referring to Kamal Haasan's comments saying his property was at stake over the film, Jayalalithaa said, "Kamal Haasan says he has his property at stake in this movie, he is old enough to make a responsible attempt, I am sure it's a calculated risk, it's a gamble. How can the government be accountable for the risk Kamal Haasan has taken?"
She also suggested that if the Muslim organisations reach an agreement with Kamal Haasan, her government will release the movie. "Kamal Haasan was not willing to cut any part of his movie, so in order to protect the state government had no other option but to issue Section 144 for 15 days. If the Muslim organisations and Haasan are ready to sit down, and he agrees for cutting some portions, then we will screen the movie," she said.
Earlier on Thursday, Kamal Haasan said he will not approach the Supreme Court over the release of the film. But a visibly calmer Haasan said on Thursday that he was still hurt at the treatment being meted out to his film. The talks with various stakeholders are still on, he said.
"Even yesterday I was calm, I'm only hurt, I'm still hurt. Talks are still underway. I am not moving the Supreme court," he told reporters. "I still have hope things may be settled with Tamil Nadu government. For now, I may wait before moving to Supreme Court," said Haasan.
The Rs 95 crore espionage thriller was originally scheduled to be released in Tamil and Telugu on January 25, but a day before the screenings, the Tamil Nadu government imposed a two-week ban on the film after some Muslim groups complained that some scenes in the film portrayed the community in a bad light.