Vishwaroopam compromise reached, but controversy continues!

The censor board defends its decision to pass Vishwaroopam without cuts and hits back at Advocate General Shri Navaneetha Krishnan for calling the procedure a ‘scam’

Now that the beleaguered actor/director/writer/lyricist/producer/singer Kamal Haasan has hammered out a deal with Muslim protest groups and the Tamil Nadu government, the film is likely to release in its home state this coming Friday, provided the agreed seven minutes of cuts can be made in time. However, the controversy surrounding the film continues. This time, thankfully, it was nothing to do with Kamal. It may be recalled that Tamil Nadu Advocate General Navaneetha Krishnan had described the film’s certification as a ‘scam’. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has come down upon the description like a ton of bricks.

The CBFC issued a statement saying, “The Central Board of Film Certification would like to put it on record for all concerned that every action taken/procedure followed by CBFC for certifying Vishwaroopam or any other film has been done in accordance with the Act and Rules framed by the Parliament. The CBFC has been functioning since 1951 and there are judicial precedents upholding the legality of the certification process.

In view of the above, the statement of Advocate General Shri Navaneetha Krishnan calling the certification process ‘a scam’ is baseless and irresponsible. The statement of Advocate Shri Sankarasubu calling the Board members ‘purchasable commodities’ is utterly reprehensible and grossly defamatory.

The CBFC calls upon the Advocate General and Advocate Shri Sankarasubu to issue an apology for the statements made by them.”

Meanwhile, not one to be left standing by the roadside while controversy rages, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor weighs in with this: “Freedom of speech should in my view include the right to say things that might offend some and therefore invite a counter argument and discussion and debate, but not to the point where a government or a judge determine that it is poses a danger to public order. Once the film has been certified by the Censor Board it ought to be screened and if you don’t know what the film says, then engage with the film makers, argue if necessary, protest if you must but do not prevent screening.”

It is utopian of Tharoor to imagine that matters in India can be resolved via mature debate. Perhaps he’s forgotten the antics of his fellow members of parliament who routinely behave like idiots when in session, with out-bellowing each other being the preferred form of debate.

Meanwhile, the film continues to perform well in overseas markets but it looks like Kamal is facing losses of Rupees 30 crore thanks to the delay in release that has led to core audiences watching pirated versions of the film. Here’s hoping that Superstar Rajinikanth makes good his promise of acting in Kamal’s next film for free. That would be the most historical reunion of talent in Indian cinema. After all, Thalaivar and Ulaganayagan have not been in a film together since Geraftaar and that was 28 long years ago.