Vishwaroopam released in Kerala amid PFI protests

The screening of Kamal Haasan's controversial film Vishwaroopam, which faced a two-week ban in Tamil Nadu amid protests by Muslim groups, was stopped by the police on Friday in Hyderabad and Bangalore over security concerns but went ahead as scheduled in Kerala.

The release in Kerala, however, was marred by protests from Muslim outfit Popular Front of India (PFI).

The release of the spy thriller by the 58-year-old actor-filmmaker that coincided with the Muslim festival Milad-un-Nabi was deferred by a day in Hyderabad and by two days in Bangalore after police feared law and order problems. However, no formal ban order was issued by authorities.

Andhra Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy said, "Yesterday some religious leaders approached me to stop the screening of the movie ...There is no ban from government side. City police commissioners have requested me to postpone the movie screening by a day." The sole distributor of the film in Karnataka, Gangaraju, said the postponement was on the request of state police.

In Kerala, although the film was scheduled to be screened in 86 theatres, many recoiled from the release in the wake of protests from PFI activists. In some theatres, the show was suspended halfway as agitators threatened to vandalise halls. A Muslim theatre owner in Malappuram, who had lobbied to get 'Vishwaroopam', abandoned the screening at the behest of the local mosque committee. PFI state general secretary K Sadath said, "We would continue to protest against the film in the coming days also."

A major chunk of the listed releasing theatres was in municipal and panchayat towns as a section of 'A' class theatres in district headquarters didn't show the film in protest against Hassan's decision to premier the film on DTH format, said V Mohanan, president of Kerala Cine Exhibitors Association, which represents 'B' and 'C' class theatres.

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