Pirated CDs of Vishwaroopam out but Hishammuddin still bans the movie

Athi Shankar | February 9, 2013
Puzzled fans are demanding that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein explain the continued ban on Vishwaroopam.
GEORGE TOWN: The banned Kamal Haasan blockbuster spy-thriller Vishwaroopam is allegedly now available as pirated CDs.
The uncensored and crystal clear version, which is being sold secretly at RM15, has however left diehard Kamal Haasan fans here livid.
They want want Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to explain why the censored version of the movie was still being banned in cinema halls while pirated CDs were making its way into households.
“Why has the Home Ministry not heeded our call to lift the ban on Vishwaroopam?
“Is the government tacitly backing sales of pirated CDs on the banned movie?
“Is the government gaining tax revenue from sales of pirated CDs?” asked Penang Kamal Haasan Fans Club president S Mahendran after leading a 20-minute protest outside the Penang Odeon cinema today.
The fans, who held a similar demonstration last week, reiterated their call on the Home Ministry to immediately lift the ban.
Written, co-produced and directed by Kamal Haasan, Vishwaroopam’s screening was banned in local cinema halls on Jan 25, a day after it opened following complaints to the Home Ministry by Indian Muslim groups.
The groups have alleged that the movie contained scenes and dialogues undermining Muslims and Islam.
The Malaysian ban followed bans in Singapore and in Tamil Nadu.
However, the movie, after several cuts on alleged “sensitive” scenes and dialogues, has resumed screening in Singapore and in Tamil Nadu.
Malaysia now is the only country banning it.
Local film distributors and cinema hall operators were hopeful that  Vishwaroopam will be allowed screening this week after the movie underwent 16 scene-cuts.
But this did not materialise.
Fans puzzled
Meanwhile it was learnt that Hishamuddin has refused to meet with local distributors on the issue yesterday.
Penang Odeon manager A Mohan Dass said Tamil movie fans were calling the cinema hall daily to know when the movie will be screened.
He said fans were puzzled as to why the movie was being banned in Malaysia when it was being screened all over the world.
“It’s sheer hypocrisy. It defeats the whole purpose of the ban,” chided Mohan Dass.
Critics have argued the ban on Vishwaroopam was detrimental against freedom of artistic expression and cine professionalism.
They also criticised the Home Ministry for being inconsistent in protecting religious sensitivities of various communities in the country as it did not ban movies such as ‘Love Guru’, which hurt Hindu sentiments, and ‘The Da Vinci Code’, which allegedly questioned the fundamental myth of Christianity.
They have insisted that the movie illustrated the reality of international terrorism and its operations, and did not hurt religious sentiments.

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