Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan's controversial film 'Vishwaroopam' will miss its release date in Tamil Nadu on Friday with the Madras High Court on Thursday declining to grant any interim stay on the two-week ban imposed by the state government on the movie that has raised the hackles of Muslim outfits.
Passing interim orders on the petition filed by Haasan challenging the ban imposed on Wednesday night, Justice K Venkataraman refused to grant "for the present" the interim injunction sought by the actor who has now missed two deadlines for the film, which has been bogged down by controversies.
"Whether the film has got any scenes affecting the sentiment of the people, who have given complaint, or not could be decided only after viewing the film," the Judge said, holding that the release could be postponed till January 28.
Making it clear that he had not formed any opinion or come to any conclusion about the merits and de-merits of the case, the Judge said it would be decided after viewing the film on January 26 and hearing the parties.
"Now, considering the fact that the Republic Day is to be celebrated on January 26, the petitioners can postpone the release till January 28," the judge said.
The film, which is to be released on Friday in the country, is a spy thriller starring Haasan in the lead alongwith Rahul Bose, Pooja Kumar and Jaideep Ahlawat.
Citing law and order problems following stiff opposition from several Muslim groups over the alleged portrayal of their community in a negative light in the mega-budget film, the state government had directed the district collectors to invoke relevant legal provision for a two-week ban.
Earlier, reacting strongly to the opposition to the film and the subsequent ban, Haasan, now in the US, said "such cultural terrorism must have to stop."
The high court observed that the postponement of the release of the film, "no doubt will cause not only mental agony to the petitioners but also a loss to them monetarily," but "the interest of the people at large that too during Republic Day has to be viewed more than that."
The film first ran into rough weather after a section of theatre owners stiffly resisted the tech-savvy actor's decision to premiere the movie, made in Hindi and Telugu as well, on DTH platform ahead of its screening in theatres on January 11.
In his petition, Haasan said once the Censor Board had certified the film, the state had no powers to impose a ban.
State Advocate General A Navaneetha Krishnan justified the ban arguing that the petition was not maintainable as only the theatre owners were affected parties and not the petitioner.
Muslim groups had petitioned the government seeking the ban after they were shown a special preview of the film by the actor.
"I have been ruthlessly used as a vehicle by small groups who seek political profile... Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film. It was designed for that purpose," Haasan said in a statement.
The actor said he was "appalled" at how the movie was "construed to be against my Muslim brothers... I will rely on law and logic to come to our support. This kind of cultural terrorism will have to stop," he said.
Haasan received support from the Centre with Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari asking the state government to reconsider the ban, holding that the Censor Board's view on such matters was binding on all and cited a Supreme Court verdict.