Indian spy thriller attracts protest for depicting muslims as the baddies


Updated: Goodies and Baddies...

Malaysia joins Indian states in banning the Tamil spy thriller Vishwaroopam

Link Here 30th January 2013

Vishwaroopam is a 2013 India crime action thriller by Kamal Hassan.
With Kamal Hassan, Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah. YouTube icon IMDb

Kamal Haasan's controversial film Vishwaroopam has been banned from local cinemas in Malaysia a day after its release following a directive from the Home Ministry, much to the disappointment ethnic Indians in Kuala Lumpur.

Film distribution company Lotus Fivestar AV's director R Ramalingam said the ministry told him to stop screening the movie on Friday. The film, which opened in Malaysia on Thursday, had played to full cinemas before being removed from the theatres.

Vishwaroopam has been passed by the Central Board of Film Censors but has been temporarily banned in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for two weeks amid allegations by the Muslim community that they have been depicted negatively in the movie. Haasan has taken the matter to the Madras High Court and a decision is pending.

The film is playing in the state of Kerala but cinema goers are having to brave muslim protests.

Sri Lanka has ordered a delay in the release in favour of a review by censors.

In the UK the film has been passed 12A for cinema release after 11s of category cuts. The BBFC commented:

Company chose to remove two moments of bloody violence in order to obtain a 12A rating. An uncut 15 rating was available.

VISHWAROOPAM is a thriller in the Hindi and Tamil languages about a woman unsuspectingly married to one of India's top secret agents. It is rated 12A for moderate violence.

There are a number of fast-paced fights and shoot-outs. Although there are some heavy blows and bullet impacts, little is shown in terms of injury detail, with the focus instead placed on the spectacular and generally unrealistic fight choreography. For example, in one scene the hero uses a Japanese sword to defeat his attackers, cutting off one of their hands. There is no detail of this but the hand is briefly seen flying through the air.

VISHWAROOPAM also contains infrequent mild bad language and mild sex references. There is also some sight of hard drugs, but this occurs within a clear anti drug context.

Presumably the baddies are muslim terrorists and hence the complaints about negative depictions from the muslim community.

Update: Unbanned by the Madras High Court

30th January 2013. See  article from

In a major relief to film makers, the Madras High Court has lifted the ban imposed on the movie Vishwaroopam by the Tamil Nadu government after it courted controversy over its supposedly anti-Muslim content.

The judgement paves the way for the screening of the movie however there are indications that the state government may prefer an appeal.

The court reviewed and accepted the film censorship procedures resulting in the UA certificate (PG) issued after 1:08s of censor cuts. The state's case seemed to be that the decision was taken by an examining committee rather than the full board.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned the screening of the film in the face of opposition by some Muslim outfits, who claimed that the movie portrayed their community in a negative light. It seems that this claim is due to the spy thriller baddies being fictional muslim terrorists.

Update: Meanwhile in Milton Keynes

30th January 2013. See article from

Angry Muslims staged a protest against a supposedly Islamophobic film outside Milton Keynes' Cineworld cinema.

The group were protesting the UK release of the controversial Indian film Vishwaroopam , which is currently showing in British cinemas. Campaigner Mustapha Zamaan felt the film fuelled negative views against Muslim people and should be banned from British cinemas. He said:

We know there's a number of American films against Muslims but it's a lot different in Indian culture, where they trust film actors like gods. This worship leads to films like this creating racial tension and that's why it's been banned in India. Ideally we want it pulled here too, but we might be a bit late.

We respect freedom of expression... BUT ...this film is hate speech that portrays Muslims negatively.

Update: Unbanned in Malaysia

21st February 2013. See  article from

The Malaysian Authorities on 19 February 2013 lifted the ban imposed on the screening of the Tamil movie Vishwaroopam , directed and produced by Kamal Haasan for public screening.

Earlier on 24 January 2013 the authorities approved the screening of the movie in Malaysia but following the directives released by the Home Ministry that the content of the movie portrayed Islam in a negative light, the approval was withdrawn.

The movie received a go-ahead in Malaysia after the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the National Censorship Board studied the movie from all aspects including religious and security fronts and gave a green signal to its screening.



Update: Un-banned and Re-banned...

Meanwhile Muslims bomb cinemas in protest at being depicted as terrorists

Link Here 31st January 2013

Vishwaroopam is a 2013 India crime action thriller by Kamal Hassan.
With Kamal Hassan, Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah. YouTube icon IMDb

Muslims protesting against Kamal Haasan's film Vishwaroopam hurled petrol bombs at two theatres in Tamil Nadu where the movie was scheduled to be screened on Wednesday following the High Court staying the ban imposed by the State Government. There are no reports of injuries. Glass panes at the theatres were shattered.

Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan met with representatives of the Muslim community and later told newspersons that he had come to an amicable settlement over the dispute that rose from his using verses from the Quran in Vishwaroopam:

This film is not against Indian Muslims. It is in support of Indian Muslims. There seems to be some confusion over the use of Quranic verses and I am willing to edit out these references.

Meanwhile Madras High Court re-instates ban

The problems for Vishwaroopam increased after the Madras High Court Wednesday set aside the single judge's interim order that allowed screening of the film in the state. Hearing the appeal made by the Tamil Nadu government against the single judge's order, a two-member high court bench set aside the former's order.

The high court bench chaired by Justice Dharma Rao has nullified the revocation of the ban on the film by Justice K. Venkataraman Tuesday. Rao said:

The film stays banned as of now and it can't be screened across Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile the Vishwaroopam ban is unacceptable, says chief censor

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Leela Samson says that the ban on Vishwaroopam is unacceptable:

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 government against the censor board.

It is absolutely unacceptable. We have certified hundreds and thousands of films but only with 'Vishwaroopam', people find, it has not been done with due diligence? This is an infringement on freedom of expression.



Update: Appeased...

Vishwaroopam set to be unbanned after agreement to cut 7 scenes

Link Here 4th February 2013

Indian movie maker Kamal Hassan has reached a settlement with Muslim organizations in southern India and agreed to delete seven scenes from his latest spy thriller Vishwaroopam.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned Hassan's film in the state following protests from several islamic groups objecting to the film's portrayal of muslim baddies.

Hassan and Muslim leaders reached an agreement after more than five hours of talks. Islamic groups have promised to call off their protests against the film and withdraw legal cases that they have filed against the filmmaker.

Update: Madras High Court refuses ban

6th February 2013. See  article from

The Madras High Court has refused to ban Vishwaroopam citing that cuts have been agreed in Tamil Nadu and that the film is being shown in the rest of the country.



Update: Centralising Censorship...

Indian government sets up panel to prevent the fragmentation of film censorship in light of the Tamil Nadu state ban on Vishwaroopam

Link Here 5th February 2013

After Kamal Hasan's Vishwaroopam faced ban from the Tamil Nadu government, the government has constituted a panel to examine issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act 1952 to ensure than films cleared by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) do not get disrupted thereafter.

The committee will be chaired by Mukul Mudgal, a retired Chief Justice, the ministry of information & broadcasting (I&B) said in a press statement.

The 8 member panel would also have Lalit Bhasin, chairperson, Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, Sharmila Tagore, former chairperson, CBFC and Javed Akhtar along with others, it added.

According to the ministry, the committee has been asked to review the mandate and functioning of central board of film certification (CBFC) and recommend measures including statutory changes to enable CBFC to deal with contemporary requirements of certification and increased transparency/efficiency.



Update: Muted Baddiness...

Vishwaroopam gets the go ahead in Malaysia after 16 dialogue cuts

Link Here 22nd February 2013

Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam is returning to cinemas in Malaysia, but only after 16 dialogue cuts were made to avoid offence to muslim viewers.

The film was yanked from Malaysian theaters the day after it opened on January 25, even though it had been approved by the Film Censorship Board (LPF). According to The Hollywood Reporter, the LPF acted in response to letters of protest filed by the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress and the Federation of Malaysian Indian Muslim Associations complaining of religious insensitivity,

Film Business Asia reports that the distributor has not yet announced when the film would return to theaters. In the meantime, pirated DVD copies have circulated widely in Malaysia.


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