Kamal Haasan's spy-thriller Vishwaroopam may just have a happy ending after all. In Chennai, the chief minister J Jayalalithaa ardently defended a two-week ban on the movie imposed by the government but suggested the terms for a compromise.
"Out an amicable agreement, the government will do everything possible to facilitate that... and the deck will be cleared for screening the movie," she said. Government sources say that tomorrow, in Chennai, the Home Secretary is likely to meet with Kamal Haasan and Muslim leaders to decide what cuts should be made to the film. After the changes are made, the movie will be cleared for release.
In Mumbai, where the Hindi version of Vishwaroopman is being screened by special invite this evening, Kamal Haasan, who directed and co-produced the film, sounded relieved. I just thanked Jayalalithaa that she came forward. I think she has understood now - she is an artiste, she has come forward," he said, but repeated an earlier warning. "If this ever happens again, I will leave the country."
At a press conference this afternoon, Ms Jayalalithaa refuted criticism that the Vishwaroopam ban violates freedom of expression, or that it was influenced, as her detractors suggested, by political and commercial interests. She said that Muslim groups had threatened to protest outside cinemas booked to show Vishwaroopam. The police force could not have been asked to guard each of the over 500 cinemas booked for Vishwaroopam, she said.
Critics had said that by supporting Muslim groups, she was trying to woo a vote-bank that has not backed her so far, and that Kamal Haasan may have upset those close to the chief minister who run Jaya TV, a mouthpiece for her party, which lost a bid for the TV rights to Vishwaroopam.
"This is a wild reckless charge against a constitutional authority. We will have to take legal action," Jayalalithaa said.