HC bench stops Vishwaroopam, stray violence mars screening

Kamal Haasan

Filmaker Kamal Haasan's relief over securing a favourable verdict from the Madras High Court on screening his film Vishwaroopam was short-lived as a division bench of the court set aside the decision Wednesday, and the few theatres willing to show it either backing out or stopped mid-way apparently due to pressure from authorities and the threat of violence.

The bench of acting Chief Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan set aside the interim verdict by Justice K Venkataraman who had ordered the lifting of the two-week suspension of the screening imposed by the state government.

The court asked Haasan's lawyers whether they had approached district collectors who had issued individual orders prohibiting the screening of the film citing a fear of violence. The lawyers said they hadn't, prompting the judges to note that officers should be allowed to exercise the powers vested in them.

As advocate-general A Navaneethakrishnan sought time to file a detailed counter before the single judge who passed the interim verdict , the bench said the counters could be filed on February 4 and the hearing could be on February 6.

The bench told Haasan's counsel P S Raman that he could either approach the district collectors with an appeal against the prohibition or wait for the final order by the single judge. Raman sought a copy of the order today itself, suggesting that the production house would now approach the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Haasan, who scripted, produced and directed the Rs 95 crore-espionage-thriller, had agreed to delete some scenes from the film that apparently offended some Muslims. "My Muslim family has reached out to me about this problem...I promised anything for my brothers. They have pinpointed certain areas which they think might be troublesome. They have given me a list of certain scenes that might offend, and certain words from the Holy Quran which could be removed," he told reporters.

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