|Kamal Hassan and Pooja Kumar at media meet in Bombay|
India is a democracy that is admired by many a country in the world but when sensibilities in religious or communal groups are easily hurt, the foreign community observes with disarray and realizes how fragile a huge democracy might actually be.
Kamal Hassan's Vishwaroopam has been receiving good reviews from movie critics but has hurt a highly sensitive sector of the Muslim community this past week, thus sadly becoming the reason for a government issued ban on the film's release in the entire state of Tamil Nadu. Negotiations between Hassan's supporters, the government and the film's detractors have however luckily softened the initial protests that made it controversial and the film is set to release in Bombay this Friday, as originally programmed, while it is still banned in UP and Malaysia as we write.
The press in different sectors reports that protestors have not been able to provide proper arguments to support their cause given that the film solely portrays what is a sad reality in certain areas of Afghanistan: mainly the suffering of the Afghani population who is caught in the middle of a conflict between Al-Qaeda jihadis and the USA.
Let us not forget that Kamal Hassan is also the actor who made Hey Ram, a film that portrayed Hindu extremism. He is not a creative person to shy out of expressing his opinion through his work and this needs to be saluted. The protests and various bans seem deeply unfounded and it is sad to see that communities feel so easily targeted in a country that could be an example to many for its diversity. Communities should be aware that protesting against artistic liberty of expression, especially one that is not portraying their religion and community in a truly negative light, gives them more bad press than good reputation...
May Bombay's reaction to the film today clear any doubts of the national and international Muslim community regarding the film's intentions. May DTH releases, Internet paid screenings and other modern solutions for the cinema industry also free up creativity and allow viewers to have a choice and an option beyond what mobs or sudden bans can allow in the future.