Long back I thought of writing about the DTH controversy surrounding the Kamal Hassan starrer Viswaroopam.But before I started the article,the controversy ended.But that didn't give the much needed relief to Kamal Hassan.As usual our religious groups started protesting against the movie.But this is common.This is not the first time a movie is facing protests by a religious group or casteist forces in Tamil Nadu.Lot of movies like Ore Oru Gramathile(deals with reservation policies),Roja,Bombay etc have faced lot of issues.Ore Oru Gramathile was sorted out in court.But this is the first time(to my knowledge) a movie certified by the censor board has been banned by the govt.
The reason given by the Tamil Nadu govt is that this movie might cause law and order problem. Is it an excuse?Just because a bunch of people doesn't like a movie,does it mean that the movie should be banned? If at all there is going to be a law and order problem,it will be because of some fringe elements.So it is the duty of the govt to provide security for the movie and to punish those who cause law and order problem.But here the govt took the other route and banned the movie.When a govt passes such orders to appease one particular section of the society,that itself will disturb the existing communal harmony.
A small flashback.
"Shah Bano, a 62 year old Muslim woman and mother of five from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, was divorced by her husband in 1978. The Muslim family law (marriage, gifts, inheritance, adoption and a few other civil laws are under the purview of personal laws in India - they are different for Christians, Muslims and Hindus) allows the husband to do this and not the wife: the husband just needs to say the word Talaq (meaning divorce) three times before two witnesses for a valid divorce.
Shah Bano, because she had no means to support herself and her children, approached the courts for securing maintenance from her husband. When the case reached the Supreme Court of India, seven years had elapsed. The Supreme Court invoked Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which applies to everyone regardless of caste, creed, or religion. It ruled that Shah Bano be given maintenance money, similar to alimony.
Some Muslims felt threatened by what they perceived as an encroachment of the Muslim Personal Law, and protested loudly at the judgment. Their spokesmen were Obaidullah Khan Azmi and Syed Shahabuddin. They had formed an organization in 1973 known as the All India Muslim Personal Law Board devoted to upholding what they saw as Muslim Personal Law." - source wiki
Targeting the minority votebank,Mr.Rajiv Gandhi,passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act,which diluted the secular judgement of the Supreme Court.This triggered a huge debate all over India.Later on in 1989,Rajiv ji allowed the 'shilanyas' to be held at the disputed site in Ayodhya.This was seen as a green signal for the construction of Ram temple in the disputed site.This he did to get the Hindu votes.These decisions intensified the Ram Temple Movement and it resulted in the demolition of the mosque. When we start disapproving the law and court to appease a section of society,it will result in disaster.
These Muslim groups which protests against Viswaroopam,Thuppakki etc were quiet when Mr.Owaisi gave that hate speech.When a speech like that cannot disturb the communal harmony,how can a 2 and half hour movie?Mr.Owaisi is a democratically elected MP.I updated a status in facebook when I came to know about the ban on Viswaroopam that "...hereafter every caste/religious groups will demand a special screening of new movies and they may expect some commission from the producers,if the producer fails to give the same,they will approach the govt and the movie will be banned.". Within 2 days,some Hindu outfits protested against Ameer's Aadhi Bhagavan and filed a complaint against the movie.Now they are demanding a special screening of the movie even before it goes to censors.This is going to be the outcome of this ban.The govt has set a very bad example by banning Viswaroopam.And regarding Aadhi Bhagavan,the interesting point is,director Ameer issued a press statement that he can't comment about the ongoing Viswaroopam controversy without watching the movie. And now his movie was targeted.Well,I don't support the Hindu outfits' protests either.It is equally dangerous.
Apart from the protests of Islamic organizations and minority appeasement,there might be other reasons as well. Some people like Pawan Kalyan,Kalaignar Karunanidhi say,the TN govt is targeting Kamal as he didn't give the satellite rights to the channel which the ruling party supports.Some days back, Kamal was present in finance minister Mr.Chidambaram's book release function.There he said something like,someone wearing Dhothi should become Prime Minister.There are rumors doing rounds that only because of these reasons, the Tamil Nadu CM is angry with Kamal.I don't know whether these are the reasons for the ban,but the activities of the state govt gives me a feel that Kamal Hassan is being victimized.All of a sudden the lawyer who argued for govt said,the censor certificate for Viswaroopam was not obtained on legal means and huge corruption is involved in getting censor certificates.If that is true,the govt should have filed a case against censor board,not against the movie.The Madras High court lifted the ban on Viswaroopam after almost 6 hours of argument.The judge watched the movie(which itself is not necessary) and said there is nothing against Muslims in it.After this only he lifted the ban. But within few hours the govt appealed again before another bench and the bench upheld the ban on the movie.In so many theaters the banners were burnt and people who went to watch the movie,were sent back.The police even lathicharged on them.
Even though the court has banned the movie again,I don't find a proper reason to stop the shows which were already started after the first judgement.There is no necessity chase one actor or movie.There are lot of problems the people of Tamil Nadu are facing.Power shortage,water shortage,corruption etc.To be honest,I feel this govt is taking steps to solve these issues and we have to wait to see how successful these steps are going to be.But giving so much of importance to any religious groups may result in law and order problem.And recent incidents like protests infront of the US embassy,protests against Thuppakki and now the big Viswaroopam has shattered the popular belief that Tamil Nadu is the most secular and peaceful state.And the govt's move to ban the movie should be vehemently condemned.This is an assault on freedom of expression.Today it is Kamal and tomorrow it may be anyone else.
P.S. : I have criticized Kamal Hassan on so many occasions and am not a fan of him either,but now he needs the support of sensible people.I am showing my support to him through this blog post.