Facing all-round criticism for the ban on Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today strongly defended the action, citing threats of violence but said her government would facilitate an amicable settlement if both the actor and Muslim groups come together.
Her intervention was immediately welcomed by the Tamil film fraternity, amid reports of back channel efforts to pave the way to release the Rs 100 crore movie.
Breaking her silence a week after the ban exploded into a national controversy, she said it was based on Intelligence inputs of likely violence and to maintain law and order.
Haasan had on Tuesday secured interim relief from a single judge who had allowed its release, but his joy was cut short after a division bench set it aside. The matter will now come up for hearing on Wednesday.
The film, made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, had courted controversy not only because of opposition by Muslim groups who considered certain scenes offensive to their community, but also because of the tech-savvy actor's decision to release it on a DTH platform, prior to its release in theatres.
'Threat to law & order prompted the ban'
Finding fault with Haasan, she said government had made a request to him to show the movie to a few representatives of the Muslim
organisations. "Had he done it, the problem would have been avoided. But he avoided showing the movie."
"If Muslim organisations and Kamal Hassan are ready to sit down and work out an amicable agreement, if he agrees to delete certain portions that are objectionable, then the decks would be cleared for screening of the movie, then Tamil Nadu government will do that to facilitate such an amicable settlement."
The chief minister said over the last few days, there has been lot of "hysteria" whipped up in the media over
Vishwaroopam and "reckless" and "wild charges" had been levelled.
She said the threat to law and order was "very real" and many Muslim outfits had announced a series of agitations. The primary objective of the government was to maintain peace and tranquility. "We relied on Intelligence inputs," she said.
"As Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, my first and foremost priority is maintenance of law and order and to ensure public peace in which people can carry on with their daily lives and work," Jayalalithaa said, citing inadequate police manpower to provide security at all 524 theatres where the movie was to be screened.
Jayalalithaa said 31,440 police personnel would have been required for security at all 524 theatres in three shifts, whereas only 9,226 officers were available after making provisions for maintenance of law and order and other requirements.
"How is it practically possible for the state government to provide protection to 524 theatres and maintain law and order when we do not have adequate manpower," she asked, explaining government's reason for the ban, which has come in the line of fire from personalities in different walks of life, and actor Kamal Haasan even dubbing it as "cultural terrorism".
"It is only in that spirit we approached.....," she said.
On Haasan's statement that he had pledged his entire property to make the film and he would go bankrupt, Jayalalithaa said he had taken "a calculated risk, a calculated gamble".
"If he has taken a decision to produce a movie with a mega budget running into hundreds of crores and has pledged all his property for the same, it is a conscious decision he took. So how can the government be held responsible, accountable for that," she asked.
'No personal gain by banning Vishwaroopam'
Jayalalithaa said she has no "personal grudge" against Hassan or "personal interest" in the ban, a day after the actor threatened to take self-imposed exile in a secular place in the country, excluding Tamil
Nadu, or overseas.
She also dismissed allegations that her "personal motive" was behind the ban in the wake of charges that the action was taken because the actor had refused to give TV rights to
"Jaya TV is a channel which supports AIADMK. Jaya TV does not belong to me. I am not in any way associated with its administration. I have nothing to do with
Jaya TV. I do not hold shares (in it)", she said.
Dismissing the charges as "wild" and "reckless", she said government would have to take legal action against those who levelled them against a responsible constitutional authority.
Jayalalithaa's remarks come in the wake of her arch rival DMK chief M Karunanidhi citing reports suggesting that a TV channel close to AIADMK wanted to buy the film but the producers had refused saying they had spent over Rs 100
'Haasan doesn't select the Prime Minister'
She also ridiculed the charge that she bore grudge against Haasan for his remark at a function clamouring for a "dhoti- clad
Tamilian" to become Prime Minister, an apparent reference to P Chidambaram.
"Why should I take offence to such statements? Kamal Haasan has freedom to air his views. If he wanted a dhoti-clad person to become Prime Minister, that is his own view. Kamal Haasan does not select the Prime Minister....."
Jayalalithaa said there were law and order problems in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and
Kerala, where the film has been released and it has been banned in various countries, including Malaysia, UAE and Singapore.
"I know nothing about Vishwaroopam," she said, adding she was not interested in movies any more.
'Ready to do whatever the TN govt says'
Haasan's brother Chandra Haasan, co-producer of the spy thriller, said, "Whatever government says, we will do accordingly. Without government support, the release of the movie is not possible".
"We are prepared to go for talks with the 23 or 24 Muslim organisations directly or through their coordinators. We are very confident that a satisfactory solution will be arrived at," he said, hoping government would ensure its smooth release and settle the "troubling issue".
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