Protest politics


Their vociferous protests have prompted the Tamil Nadu government to go as far as suspending the screening of Vishwaroopam, the creator of which was eventually forced to compromise. But for the organisations behind the protests who have mastered the politics of the street, this is merely the latest one.

The first signs of trouble for Vishwaroopam, the trilingual, mega budget espionage thriller written, directed and produced by noted actor Kamal Haasan — who also played the lead character — came over a month ago when several Muslim organisations raised objections over the alleged portrayal of the community in a poor light. Aided by a sympathetic government machinery, the protests grew wider and louder, forcing Kamal Haasan to shed his initial reluctance and agree to modify certain portions at a meeting convened and moderated by the state Home Secretary.

This, however, is only the latest in a series of such cases where leaders of community outfits, acting as super censors, have organised protests.

The most recent case before Vishwaroopam imbroglio was another Tamil film, Thuppakki, starring the most successful hero among the younger generation, Vijay, and directed by A R Murugadoss of Ghajini fame. If Kamal played a Research and Analysis Wing operator in his film, Vijay acted as an army officer in Thuppakki, which went on to become one of the biggest hits in Tamil cinema — but not before facing some hurdles.

The Federation of Islamic Movements and Political Parties — the same umbrella group that campaigned against Vishwaroopam — alleged that the film portrayed the community as terrorists and traitors. On November 14, a day after its release, a group of Muslim activists landed in front of the actor's residence on the outskirts of the city, protesting the depiction of their community members as anti-national.

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