New Delhi: Filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt and Rituparno Ghosh strongly supported embattled actor-turned-director Kamal Haasan and said the hounding he is facing can only be termed as 'state terrorism'.
"I quite understand the filmmmaker's pain and constraints extraneously imposed - artificial constraints - that is restricting his work to be viewed in its entirety," Ghosh said.
"I think any creative person is entitled to his or her own opinion and certainly what has been happening has not been fair. It in a secular country and the censor board constituted of a few people can't take a decision on the basis of the entire country," he said.
Ghosh termed as "appeasement policy" the ban imposed on Vishwaroopam by the Tamil Nadu government following protests from some fringe groups. "It's not a prerequisite for an artiste to be godless but I think if Kamal chooses it, he should be allowed to," he said responding to Haasan's comment that he's an artist and is therefore godless.
"He should be allowed his freedom of expression," Ghosh said.
Leela Samson, the 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."
Bhatt condemned the harassment Haasan was facing and said "it's a very dark moment in our history."
"I don't think Indian cinema has ever faced these kind of oppressive forces since Independence. Every second day you find some films facing a kind of blockade. And now you have the Supreme Court ruling that says once a film has been given a censor certificate no extra-constitutional body can interfere (in its screening)."
He said it was the state's duty to "see law and order is not violated and allow a person to have a free run". He criticized the Tamil Nadu government's decision to challenge the Madras High Court's order lifting the ban on Vishwaroopam. "Is the state turning into a terrorist? Are we going to deal with state terrorism now?" he said.
Veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar questioned India's democratic processed and expressed sadness at the ban on the film.
"The moment you open your mouth, the moment you express something, you are wrong. What is democracy all about? Same happened with Ashis Nandy. Why do we accept their blackmail? It has become a tradition to protest films. One can understand Kamal Hassan's hurt and suppression," Akhtar said.
On Wednesday, Petrol bombs were hurled at two theatres in Tamil Nadu's Ramanathapuram district. Both theatres were scheduled to screen the film.
Soon after, Kamal Haasan addressed the media and agreed to cut few scenes from the film. " I have been given a list of scenes to delete. Some words from the Holy Quran that should be removed," said Haasan.
Actor Prakash Raj stated, " Fear has become the national disease. It is very unfortunate that he(Haasan) has to do it, though the question is now where are we heading."
"Let's see what he has removed, we have to stand by Kamal Hassan, who is known to be a secular person," added Raj.
Prakash Raj also reiterated that there was a need for a secular place in India and added that he was touched by the support that film fraternity had showed towards the Haasan's film. "Touched by the supoort that the Hindi film industry has shown. That is perhaps the only solace Kamal Haasan has. I hope it doesn't happen again; it is a secular country we are proud of our country."
Haasan on Wednesday morning made an emotional pitch ahead of the Madras High Court's final decision on the release of his film 'Vishwaroopam'. Questioning 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."
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.
"My Muslim friends have absolutely no problem with Vishwaroopam. They don't consider the Taliban or any terrorist to be Muslim," actor Siddharth commented.
"Vishwaroopam sends a terrible message to filmmakers. Don't touch anything that could be sensitive politically, culturally, socially or on religion," said acclaimed director Shekhar Kapur.
Actor Madhavan said he was "really saddened by the Vishwaroopam fiasco". "I am hurt for Kamal sir. To be treated thus after giving so much is extremely demoralising."
Meanwhile actor Dhanush, the son-in-law of megastar Rajinikanth, tweeted "Heard poeple are travelling to Kerala, Karnataka and overseas to watch Vishwaroopam. Hats off to you guys for the support you are showing to a true artiste's work."
Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh said Haasan should stay in India. "No need to go anywhere. Law will take its own course," he said.
Supporting Kamal Haasan, actor Farooq Sheikh said, " I am sure Kamal is not showing all villians are from this community, even the hero is from the same community. Is this the way India wants to move ahead? I feel sorry about it."
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