Thursday, 31 January 2013

Viswaroopam: Kerala Shows The Way!

One of the most redeeming scenes we have witnessed during the current Islamist protest against the screening of the Kamal Hassan film Viswaroopam is the protection offered by the public to the theaters when the film was screened in various parts of Kerala.

The Hindu reports that when the ultra-fundamentalist Social Democratic Party of India (what a name for a group still wallowing in the tribal values of the seventh century Arabian desert people!) tried to stop the screening of the film in government owned Kairali theatre in Thiruvananthapuram, DYFI workers assembled at the theatre offering protection.  In other places too cultural activists came out in support of the film and offered protection to screen the film emboldening the theatres to continue to exhibit the film.

While in a civilized society it is the duty of the police and other law enforcing authorities to protect the public from hooligans, sometimes it becomes necessary for the civil society to come forward and take on the cultural fascists who use their muscle power to muzzle the voice of freedom and progressive values.

While we understand the decision of the producers of the film to have a discussion with the fundamentalist groups protesting against the film (after all, they are in business and has to, at least recover the money they invested), it is indeed depressing to find that in addition to the Central Board of Film Certification, the producers of a film has to get the approcval of religious nuts before a film is exhibitted to the public in India - supposely a Secular State!

Vishwaroopam comes home to plaudits, brickbats in equal measure

Special Correspondent

(The Hindu, 26 January 2013)

Amidst protests, the fans of actor Kamal Hassan gave a warm reception to his latest film `Viswaroopam,’ in the capital on Saturday.

As the film was not released in Tamil Nadu, the fans of Mr.Kamal Hassan from Madurai and Tirunelveli reached the Kairali and Sree theatre complex in the city to watch the film. The enthusiastic youth showered flower petals and sprayed milk on the huge flex boards of the actor put up before the theatre complex. Some of them offered pooja too. The fans had a word of praise for the State government for taking the initiative to screen the film. In spite of news about the protests against the film alleging that it hurt the sentiments of a community, the theatres were crowded.

Later, a group of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) took out a protest demonstration to the theatre complex. They destroyed the boards put up before the theatre. Meanwhile, DYFI workers under the aegis of the district committee assembled at the theatre offering protection for the screening. Kerala Cine Exhibitors Association president V.Mohanan told `The Hindu’ that all those cinema houses which had stopped screening in the wake of protest will resume shows as usual from Sunday. “Across the State, the film was released in 86 theatres, but at least 14 theatres were forced to give up the screening in the wake of protests. Cultural activists in various regions, including Perumbavoor and Palakkad have come out in support of the film offering protection and this has emboldened the exhibitors to resume the screening in full swing from Sunday. Cultural and political activists have taken an active interest in preventing such undesirable tendencies,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition V.S.Achuthanandan said in a statement here that the blocking the screening and unleashing violence against the film amounted to infringement on creative freedom and right to expression. Permission for screening the film was granted by the Censor Board after scrutiny. The violence against theatres was cultural fascism. Those opposing the film can campaign against it, but should not resort to violence. This was proof of intolerance. Mr.Kamal Hassan hails from a family which upheld religious amity. He and his brothers are symbols of religious unity. Casting a wrong impression about a revered artiste was unfair, he said.

The SFI State secretariat demanded the government to give due protection to the theatres screening the film. It described the protests as uncalled for in a statement here. Legal action should be initiated against those targeting the cinema houses. Communal forces were trying to upset creative freedom. The attacks and ban on a work of art were not conducive for a civilised society, the statement said.

 Accessed on 31 January 2013)


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