Chennai, Jan. 29: Madras High Court today permitted the screening of Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu after passing an interim stay on the state’s 15-day ban on the film.
Justice K. Venkatraman, who issued the order well past 10pm after a seven-hour hearing, said there was no bar on the film being released in theatres from tomorrow. He had watched the film on Saturday.
The judge kept in abeyance prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 passed by 31 district collectors that had effectively stopped the film’s screening.
He said screening could not be stopped after the film had got necessary clearance from the censor board. He turned down a plea by state advocate-general Navaneethakrishnan to suspend his order till tomorrow morning so it could go on appeal.
The advocate-general’s response seemed to indicate that the state government was intent on stopping the film. He told reporters it was only an interim order by a single judge and not on merit and that the state would challenge it.
As soon as the verdict became public, Tamil actors Prakashraj and Vivek welcomed it. Hundreds of Kamal Haasan’s fans who had gathered in the court premises were seen cheering.
His daughter, Shruti Haasan, tweeted: Vishwaroopam releases tomorrow in Tamil nadu :)
A second tweet from her said: Sincerely hoping it’s smooth sailing from here on for the film *fingerscrossed*
The release order is a huge relief for Kamal Haasan who invested nearly Rs 100 crore in the movie and fought a lone battle against the ban till Rajinikanth rallied behind him.
“The delay in the release has resulted in a loss of more than Rs 30 crore,” said Chandra Haasan, Kamal’s elder brother and co-producer of the film.
Earlier in the day, Kamal Haasan’s lawyer argued that when the film had been released in three states without any untoward incidents, apprehensions of disruption in law and order in Tamil Nadu were unfounded.
Moreover, successive Supreme Court rulings have said that once a film is certified by the censor panel, it cannot be barred from public viewing on the pretext of law and order.
The advocate-general countered this argument, claiming there had been irregularities in the manner the censor panel had certified the film.
This was strongly refuted by the advocate of the film certification board. When the judge asked if the advocate-general would like his observation to be recorded, the government lawyer backed off.